News & Current Affairs

January 9, 2009

Costa Rica earthquake kills two

Filed under: Latest, Politics News — Tags: , , , , , — expressyoureself @ 7:27 am

Costa Rica earthquake kills two

A strong earthquake that struck Costa Rica on Thursday killed at least two people, officials say.

Two sisters were buried in a landslide triggered by the magnitude 6.1 tremor, centred some 35km (22 miles) north-west of the capital San Jose.

Reports say the quake – which hit at 1321 (1921 GMT) – left several people injured in villages north of San Jose.

The earthquake cut off electricity in parts of the capital and officials reported damage to roads and houses.

American Dan Whitlock said the earthquake was so strong that guests stumbled as they ran out of the hotel he was staying in.

“I was outside and all of a sudden I could see the whole building shaking,” Reuters news agency quoted him as saying. “You could see the pool water moving like a tsunami.”

Costa Rica is located on the Pacific Ring, which forms a belt of seismic activity along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.

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September 10, 2008

Southern Iran hit by earthquake

Southern Iran hit by earthquake

Map

An earthquake measuring 6.1 has struck southern Iran, the US Geological Service has said.

It hit at 0630 (1100 GMT), west-south-west of Bandar Abbas, home of a major oil refinery, about 55 kilometers (35 miles) below ground, the agency said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Iran has been struck by several severe quakes in recent years, the deadliest in 2003, when 25,000 people died in a 6.7 quake in the ancient city of Bam.

Iran straddles a major geological fault line, making it particularly prone to earth tremors.

September 8, 2008

Hong Kong democrats keep veto

Hong Kong democrats keep veto

Pro-democracy candidates Emily Lau of The Frontier Party celebrates

Pro-democracy candidate Emily Lau of Frontier Party celebrates

Hong Kong’s pro-democracy camp has won more than a third of seats in elections in the territory, and so retains a key veto over future major legislation.

The pro-democracy opposition won 23 out of the 30 elected seats in the Legislative Council.

The other 30 seats in the council are not directly elected, but allocated to special interest groups.

The Pro-Beijing camp had expected to make gains at the polls due to a surge of patriotism after the Olympics.

In fact, even some people on the pro-democracy side had been predicting that they would suffer heavy losses.

Some candidates issued statements on Sunday saying the situation was critical. Others were in tears, expecting to lose.

Analysts had believed pro-government parties would make significant gains after the surge in pro-China patriotism sparked by the Beijing Olympics and the Sichuan earthquake.

China had also promised the region some form of universal suffrage by 2017, blunting the democratic camp’s campaign.

Pro-business resignation

Leading figures such as Emily Lau, Audrey Eu and Leung Kwok-hung, also known as Longhair, each fought off stiff competition to keep their seat.

The pro-government party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, or DAB, has also done well, thanks to its strong organization.

And the pro-China independent Regina Ip won her seat.

But the pro-business Liberal party leader, James Tien lost his, and has resigned.

September 1, 2008

South-west China hit by new quake

South-west China hit by new quake

Map

An earthquake in south-western China has killed 22 people and injured more than 100, state media says.

The 6.1 magnitude earthquake struck at 1630 local time (0730 GMT), close to the town of Panzhihua in Sichuan province, near the border with Yunnan.

Xinhua news agency reported that attempts to assist survivors were being hampered by heavy rain.

Both provinces were severely affected by a devastating earthquake in May which left almost 70,000 people dead.

Xinhua reported that more than 100,000 houses had been damaged or destroyed by the latest quake and some people had been trapped in the ruins.

“Locals in the county rushed out into the open. Cracks appeared on house walls and many windows were broken,” said one local official.

Communications were reported to be disrupted, making it difficult for authorities to accurately assess the extent of the damage.

Major reconstruction efforts have been under way in Sichuan province since the 12 May earthquake, which left about five million people homeless.

August 26, 2008

Huge statue of Roman ruler found

Huge statue of Roman ruler found


Marcus Aurelius ruled over the empire for 19 years

Parts of a giant, exquisitely carved marble sculpture depicting the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius have been found at an archaeological site in Turkey.

Fragments of the statue were unearthed at the ancient city of Sagalassos.

So far the statue’s head, right arm and lower legs have been discovered, high in the mountains of southern Turkey.

Marcus Aurelius was portrayed by Richard Harris in the Oscar-winning 2000 film Gladiator and was one of the so-called “Five Good Emperors”.

He reigned from 161AD until his death in 180AD.

In addition to his deeds as emperor, Marcus Aurelius is remembered for his writings, and is considered one of the foremost Stoic philosophers.

The partial statue was unearthed in the largest room at Sagalassos’s Roman baths.

The cross-shaped room measures 1,250 sq m (13,500 sq ft), is covered in mosaics and was probably used as a frigidarium – a room with a cold pool which Romans could sink into after a hot bath.

It was partially destroyed in an earthquake between 540AD and 620AD, filling the room with rubble. Archaeologists have been excavating the frigidarium for the past 12 years.

The dig is part of wider excavations at the ruined city, which was once an important regional center.

Imperial gallery

Last year, the team led by Prof Marc Waelkens, from the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, uncovered fragments of a colossal marble statue of the emperor Hadrian in the rubble.

This month, the researchers found a huge head and arm belonging to Faustina the Elder – wife of the emperor Antoninus Pius.

Archaeologists now think the room hosted a gallery of sculptures depicting the “Antonine dynasty” – rulers of Spanish origin who presided over the Roman Empire during the second century AD.

Foot of Marcus Aurelius statue (Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)

The emperor wore army boots decorated with lion skins

Early on 20 August, a huge pair of marble lower legs, broken just above the knee, turned up in the debris.

They also found a 1.5m-long (5ft-long) right arm and hand holding a globe which was probably once crowned by a gilded bronze “Victory” figure.

But it was the giant marble head which identified this statue as the young Marcus Aurelius. The colossal head, which is just under 1m (3ft) in height, is said to bear his characteristic bulging eyes and beard.

Prof Waelkens said the pupils were gazing upwards “as if in deep contemplation, perfectly fitting of an emperor who was more of a philosopher than a soldier”.

He added that this was one of the finest depictions of the Roman ruler.

The emperor wore exquisitely carved army boots decorated with a lion skin, tendrils and Amazon shields.

The torso was probably covered in bronze Armour filled inside with terracotta or wood. When the niche’s vault collapsed in the earthquake, the torso would have exploded.

Bath complex

The statue of Hadrian was found lying halfway down in the frigidarium‘s rubble.

This initially led archaeologists to think it had been hauled in there from another part of the huge bath complex, perhaps to remove its gilded bronze armour, or to burn the huge marble pieces to make cement in a nearby lime kiln.

However, they now think sculptures of Hadrian, his wife Vibia Sabina, another Roman emperor Antoninus Pius, his wife Faustina the Elder, and Marcus Aurelius all once adorned niches situated around the room.

There were three large niches on both the western and eastern sides. The fragments of Hadrian’s statue were found near the south-west niche.

The front parts of two female feet were discovered in the opposite niche, on the room’s south-eastern side.

Arm and hand of Marcus Aurelius (Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)

The remains of a globe can still be seen, cupped in the right hand

The archaeologists now think these belonged to a colossal figure of Vibia Sabina, who was forced into marriage with the homosexual Hadrian at the age of 14.

Remains of the statue depicting Faustina the Elder were found further along, on the eastern side.

In the opposite niche, they found the front parts of a pair of male feet in sandals, which could belong to her husband, Antoninus Pius – who succeeded Hadrian as emperor.

The experts suggest Antonine emperors occupied niches on the western side of the room, while their spouses stood opposite, on the east side.

Five good emperors

After the discovery of Faustina and her male counterpart, the archaeologists guessed the north-western niche would contain a colossal statue of Marcus Aurelius – the longest-surviving successor of Antoninus Pius.

The discovery on Wednesday confirmed this prediction, and suggests the north-eastern niche may contain remains of a statue depicting Faustina the Younger, Marcus Aurelius’s wife.

Archaeologists will get the opportunity to excavate this part of the room next year.

Lower legs of Marcus Aurelius statue (Sagalassos Archaeological Research Project)

The statue of Marcus Aurelius stood in the north-western niche

Despite his philosophical leanings, Marcus Aurelius had to spend much of his reign fighting Germanic tribes along the Austrian Danube where, inĀ  180AD, he died in nearby Carnuntum.

The part of Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator was one of Richard Harri’s last roles (the actor died in 2002). Although much of the storyline is fictional, it is set against an historical backdrop of the imperial succession from Marcus Aurelius to his son Commodus.

While Marcus Aurelius is considered, along with Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, as one of Rome’s Five Good Emperors, Commodus’s reign was marked by internal strife, cruelty and conspiracies.

Commodus took part, naked, in gladiatorial battles – which he always won. Opponents, whose lives were apparently spared, would eventually submit to the emperor.

He was murdered in 192AD – not by a general called Maximus, but by an athlete named Narcissus, sent by conspirators to strangle the megalomaniac emperor in his bath.

August 5, 2008

New quake hits Chinese province

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.0 has struck Sichuan province in China, the US Geological Survey says.

The quake struck just before 1800 (1000 GMT), 48km (30 miles) north-west of Guangyuan city, and occurred at a depth of 10km (6.2 miles), the agency said.

No injuries have been reported from the scene. In May, about 70,000 people died when an 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Sichuan province.

Since then, thousands of aftershocks have rattled the region.

The epicentre of Tuesday’s earthquake was some 1,253km (778 miles) south-west of the Chinese capital, Beijing, where the Olympic Games are due to begin on Friday.

Map showing Sichuan province

The quake came a few hours after the Olympic torch was paraded through Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, the last leg of its journey before it returns to Beijing for the opening ceremony.

The state media agency Xinhua said the tremors were felt in Chengdu.

Major reconstruction efforts have been under way in Sichuan province since the 12 May earthquake left about five million people homeless.

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