April 2010 Current Events: Science/Disasters News

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Here are the key events in Science and Disasters news for the month of April 2010.

  • 7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico & California, Kills Two (Apr. 4) A 7.2 earthquake, centered in Mexico but felt for miles, shakes California and kills two. It is the strongest earthquake the state has experienced in 20 years. Though businesses and homes are reported damaged in cities and rural towns, because the epicenter was located in a remote area, most buildings remain standing.
  • W. Virginia Mine Explosion Kills at Least 25; 4 missing (Apr. 5): An explosion in a West Virginia coal mine kills at least 25 people and leaves 4 unaccounted for. Officials do not yet know what caused the explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine, located about 30 miles south of Charleston. (Apr. 9): After days of searching for the missing miners, no more survivors are found, bringing the death toll of the mine explosion to 29. It is the worst mining disaster in the U.S. since 1970. Massey Energy, the mine's operator, is under investigation for a long list of safety violations over the past several years. Federal regulators have cited the mine for major safety violations eight times since April 2009.
  • Polish President, Wife Among Passengers Killed in Russian Plane Crash (Apr. 10): The President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski, and his wife are among the 96 people on board a flight from Poland to Smolensk, Russia that crashed while attempting to land in thick fog. Dozens of the top political and military leaders in Poland were also on board. The group was headed to a ceremony commemorating the 70th anniversary of the Katyn massacre, in which more than 20,000 elite Polish troops were killed by members of the Soviet secret police during World War II. A total of 96 people perished in the crash, including Poland's deputy foreign minister, 12 members of Parliament, the chiefs of the army and the navy, and the president of the national bank. The symbolism of the timing and location of the catastrophe cannot be ignored. The Katyn massacre remains a contentious issue between Poland and Russia. Just days earlier, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin became the first Russian leader to honor the Polish victims.
  • Earthquake in China Kills Hundreds, Injures 10,000 (Apr. 14): A 7.1-magnitude earthquake strikes China's Qinghai Province, killing at least 400 people and injuring another 10,000. Many buildings and homes have collapsed, though since the area is less densely populated than the Sichuan Province, where the devastating 2008 earthquake occurred, the death toll and overall damage is expected to be lower.
  • Volcanic Ash from Iceland Disrupts Travel Plans Across Europe (Apr. 14): An explosion in the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland—which had erupted in late March and produced minimal seismic activity—resulted in a volcanic ash plume in the atmosphere over northern and central Europe. Air travel in the region was halted for several days, causing the cancellation of several thousand flights and disrupting the travel plans of millions of people. (Apr. 21): After millions of travelers have been stranded for days in Europe and North America, airports around the world begin operation again.
  • Oil Rig Explosion Kills 11 (Apr. 20): An explosion on a BP oil drilling rig off the coast of Lousiana kills 11 people and injurs 17. Experts estimate that 13,000 gallons of crude oil per hour are pouring into the gulf of Mexico. (Apr. 26): Authorites estimate that the amount of oil spilling from leaks in the oil rig is approximately 42,000 gallons of crude oil per hour. Remote-controlled robots are being used to try and seal off the oil well. (Apr. 30): The oil slick from the rig explosion reaches the Gulf Coast of Lousiana. For the first time, President Obama criticizes BP's handling of the crisis; he chatizes the company for not stemming the flow of oil and cleaning up the spill before it reached land.
  • Government Approves Nation's First Offshore Wind Farm (Apr. 28): The federal government approves the building of the nation's first wind farm, dubbed Cape Wind, which will be located off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. The wind farm will produce "clean," renewable energy, but it is not without its destractors, including those who say it will disrupt views from the Kennedy Compound National Historic Landmark, which overlooks Nantucket Sound. Developers claim that Cape Wind will produce 75% of the energy needed for Cape Cod, Nantucket, and Martha's Vineyard, reduce carbon emissions, and provide 1,000 construction jobs.

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