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Nature's Nightmares
March 20, 2019

Mozambique began three days of mourning on Wednesday for the hundreds killed by Cyclone Idai, which caused what emergency workers are calling the most destructive flooding in southern Africa in 20 years. The death toll stands at more than 200 in Mozambique, 98 in Zimbabwe, and 56 in Malawi, but the final number of dead is expected to top 1,000. "The full horror, the full impact is only going to emerge over coming days," Red Cross spokesman Matthew Cochrane said in Geneva.

The Red Cross says at least 400,000 people have likely lost their homes in central Mozambique, where flooding has covered an area of more than 150 square miles. The cyclone destroyed up to 90 percent of Mozambique's second-largest port, Beira, a city of 500,000 that also provides access to landlocked countries in the region.

The European Union and Britain have pledged financial and other aid, and the U.S. Embassy in Zimbabwe said America was "mobilizing to provide support" to partners in the three affected nations, but provided no details. You can learn more and see images of the flooding in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

January 28, 2019

A tornado ripped through three neighborhoods in eastern Havana on Sunday night, killing at least three people, injuring 172 more, and destroying dozens of homes.

Miguel Angel Hernandez of the Cuban Center for Meteorology said the tornado was a Category F3, with winds between 155 and 199 mph, The Associated Press reports. This was the strongest tornado to hit Cuba in almost eight decades; a Category 4 touched town in Bejucal on Dec. 26, 1940. Sunday night's tornado was produced by a cold front hitting the northern coast of the country.

Officials said that at least 90 homes are completely destroyed, while 30 are heavily damaged. Roofs were torn off by the high winds, and light posts were uprooted, crashing down on cars. On Monday afternoon, about 500,000 people were still without power, and more than 200,000 did not have water. Catherine Garcia

October 18, 2018

The Llano River in central Texas receded on Wednesday, after hitting near-record levels on Tuesday after days of heavy rains. The Llano River, which rose to 30 feet above flood stage, feeds into the Colorado River, and the deluge caused flooding all the way from Llano to Austin. One woman's body was found at a low-water crossing on Wednesday after floodwaters receded, and another person was found dead on the banks of Lake LBJ on Tuesday. At least one bridge, on RM 2900, was washed out completely by the swollen Llano River.

The break in the rains and opened floodgates on dams controlled by the Lower Colorado River Authority helped reduce river levels to just above flood stage on Wednesday, but more rains are expected over the weekend, and with the ground already saturated, the National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for several counties in central Texas. "We really are not sure if this disaster has fully unfolded," said Llano County emergency management coordinator Ron Anderson. "We could see another rise of the Llano River. Whether or not it will be of historic value or not, we do not know yet."

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a disaster declaration for 18 counties affected by the flooding on Wednesday. The Austin American Statesman has more photos and numbers in the video below. Peter Weber

October 2, 2018

On Tuesday, Indonesia's disaster agency raised the death toll from Friday's magnitude 7.5 earthquake and subsequent tsunami to 1,234 fatalities, from 844 dead. Agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said nearly 800 people are also severely injured, and two communities, Sigi and Balaroa, are not yet included in the casualties count. Indonesian Red Cross officials tell BBC News that the dead include 34 Indonesian students discovered under a church buried by a mudslide. The earthquake and tsunami ravaged the city of Palu and neighboring areas on central Sulawesi island.

The survivors are struggling with a lack of food, water, fuel, and shelter. The first military evacuation flight left Palu on Tuesday carrying injured victims to East Java. Two more shallow earthquakes, magnitude 5.9 and 6, struck the eastern Indonesian island of Sumba on Tuesday, but no injuries have yet been reported. Peter Weber

September 12, 2018

A missing hiker found dead Monday in Oregon's Mount Hood National Forest was probably killed by a cougar, officials said Tuesday. "There's a slim possibly that something else is responsible, but at this point every indication is that a cougar is responsible," Oregon Fish & Wildlife spokesman Brian Wolfer said. Diana Bober, 55, was reported missing on Friday, and her car was found near Welches on Saturday. She had been hiking the Hunchback Trail, which has been closed for now. If DNA confirms the autopsy's conclusion that Bober was killed by a cougar, it would be the first known fatal attack on a human by a wild cougar in Oregon history.

There are about 6,600 cougars in Oregon, and the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office said Oregon Fish & Wildlife will try to track down and kill the cougar who killed Bober, an avid hiker. Attacks by cougars, also called mountain lions, are very rare, though as cougar populations recover and human development spreads into their habitat, cougar sightings have increased. A cougar attacked two mountain bikers in Washington in May, killing one of them, and California and Colorado have had a handful of cougar attacks in recent decades.

If you do encounter a cougar, the Salem Statesman Journal says, first give it a chance to retreat. If the cat doesn't leave, don't run. Stay calm, maintain eye contact, back away slowly, and pick up any children without turning your back on the cougar or bending down. If the animal appears aggressive, raise your arms to make yourself look bigger and clap loudly. And in the unlikely case that the cougar attacks, use anything you have — walking sticks, rocks, your fingers — to fight back. Lauren Serrano and Kelly Andersen at the Orange County Zoo have some more detailed advice below. Peter Weber

August 9, 2018

A magnitude 5.9 earthquake hit the Indonesian island of Lombok on Thursday, the third major temblor to rattle the island in just over a week, and security minister Wiranto told reporters the official death toll from the biggest of the three, Sunday's magnitude 7 quake, has reached 319 people. Reporters for The Associated Press witnessed people injured and buildings collapsed from Thursday's aftershock. The Red Cross says it is funneling its resources toward reaching the 20,000 people who haven't yet received any help.

Indonesia says more than 1,400 people were injured in Sunday's earthquake, and more than 156,000 people were left homeless. Lombok is a popular tourist destination near Bali. Peter Weber

July 24, 2018

Starting at noon Wednesday, large sections of Yosemite National Park will be closed due to a nearby fire, park officials announced Tuesday.

Visitors and employees in Yosemite Valley and Wawona must evacuate by then, as all park hotels, campgrounds, and visitors services will be closed; people with reservations at camp sites and hotels will have their money refunded. The Ferguson Fire has scorched more than 36,000 acres of land southwest of Yosemite, and is just 25 percent contained. Smoke is heavy in Yosemite Valley, and visitors have been warned to "limit activity during the periods of poor air quality."

The park is a popular summer tourist destination, with thousands flocking to see El Capitan and Half Dome. Officials say they hope the park will reopen in four days. Catherine Garcia

June 7, 2018

On Saturday morning, the freshwater Green Lake on Hawaii's Big Island was there. By afternoon, it was gone, completely evaporated by boiling hot lava.

Lava from the Kilauea volcano crossed a highway and entered the lake at 10 a.m., and by 3 p.m., the lake was filled with lava and all of the water evaporated, the U.S. Geological Survey says. Green Lake was a major source of freshwater on the island.

"The lava is quite hot, so it boiled away the water," USGS volcanologist Sally Sennert told NPR. "The lava flows, like a stream of water, are going to take the path of least resistance as they flow downhill." Sennert said she does not believe the lake will make a comeback. The volcano had a major eruption last month, and smaller eruptions continue to take place. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by lava, which is moving at 656 yards an hour, and thousands of residents have been displaced. Catherine Garcia

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