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natural disaster

A magnitude 6.5 earthquake struck off the coast of Indonesia around 5 a.m. local time on Wednesday, killing nearly 100 people.

The death toll is expected to rise as rescue and recovery efforts continue, NPR's Anthony Kuhn reports.

The quake was at a relatively shallow depth, just 11 miles under the Earth's surface, Anthony says. Its epicenter was on the coast of Aceh province, the same region where an earthquake triggered a devastating tsunami in 2004.

No tsunami warning has been issued following Wednesday's quake. Aftershocks continue to shake the region.

Updated at 5:55 p.m. ET

In eastern Tennessee, deadly wildfires are still burning and authorities say it's still too dangerous for thousands of people to return to their damaged and destroyed homes and businesses.

On Wednesday, authorities in Gatlinburg, Tenn., said the confirmed death toll had grown to seven people, reported The Associated Press. Search and rescue crews from local law enforcement agencies and the National Guard combed through the remains of buildings looking for survivors.

When Hurricane Matthew lost strength and headed out to sea over the weekend, the storm took its high winds and driving rains with it.

Updated 11:50 p.m. ET with hurricane center report

The eye of Hurricane Matthew is just off the coast of Georgia, pushing surge flooding into Florida and Georgia, according to the National Hurricane Center. The storm's highest sustained winds are 105 mph. The storm is expected to move near or over the coast of South Carolina Saturday.

Updated 1:23 a.m. ET with emergency declaration in Georgia

Late Thursday night President Obama declared a state of emergency in 30 Georgia counties. The president's action authorizes FEMA to coordinate all disaster relief efforts and provide "appropriate assistance."

Updated 11:00 p.m. ET with hurricane center report

Haiti's electoral council has postponed the country's presidential election after Hurricane Matthew devastated the country. The nationwide vote was supposed to be held Sunday.

The electoral council did not announce a new date.

Updated at 4:45 p.m. ET with further states of emergency in the U.S.

Hurricane Matthew crashed into southwestern Haiti as a Category 4 storm Tuesday morning, dumping rain and scouring the land with maximum sustained winds of 145 miles per hour.

It is the first Category 4 storm to make landfall in Haiti since 1964, when Hurricane Cleo also hit the island nation's southwestern peninsula.

The National Hurricane Center is warning that Hurricane Matthew will "bring life-threatening rain, wind and storm surge" to parts of Haiti beginning Monday evening. People on multiple Caribbean islands are preparing for the Category 4 storm.

The floods that hit Louisiana last month were caused by rainfall that was unlike anything seen there in centuries. Most of the southern part of the state was drenched with up to 2 or 3 inches in an hour. A total of 31 inches fell just northeast of Baton Rouge in about three days; 20 parishes were declared federal disaster areas.

Climate scientists and flood managers suspect there could more like that to come — in Louisiana and in other parts of the country.

More than a day after a powerful earthquake struck central Italy, rescue teams are desperately searching for survivors in the rubble of once-charming mountain towns.

At least 241 people died in the disaster, according to civil protection officials, The Associated Press reports. Many of the devastated communities are difficult to reach, and the exact number of missing persons isn't known.

Updated at 12:50 a.m. ET on Thursday:

Officials in Italy say the death toll has risen to 247. The Associated Press quotes the country's civil protection agency, after it announced updated figures about 27 hours after the earthquake struck. Urgent search efforts continue.

Original Post:

In the small flood-ravaged town of Springfield, La., Rachel Moriarity waited more than a week for a center where she could apply for emergency food stamps to finally open in the Am-Vets hall — but she's been turned away at the door.

This week they are processing only those with last names beginning with A through D.

"I don't have a vehicle to get here," she tells a staffer from the state, who replies that due to the volume of applicants in need, there isn't anything they can do.

Devastating floods in Louisiana have left an estimated 40,000 houses damaged; some 86,000 people have applied for federal disaster aid in the wake of the disaster.

It's a crisis some people are comparing to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

The disaster area stretches over 20 parishes, Eileen Fleming of member station WWNO reports, and officials are working to determine how to provide temporary housing to meet the extreme need.

Devastating floods in southern Louisiana have killed at least five people and pushed tens of thousands from their homes.

As the Two-Way reported Sunday, Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency over the weekend, describing the flooding as "unprecedented and historic."

Robin Lubbock / WBUR

Five years ago, on June 1, 2011, an F3 tornado, with wind speeds between 150 and 200 miles per hour, swept through eight communities across western and central Massachusetts, from Westfield east to Southbridge.

One of the hardest hit was Monson, where the tornado cut nearly a half-mile swath of devastation through the center of town of about 8,500 residents.

This Wednesday, June 1st,  marks the fifth anniversary of a devastating tornado striking western Massachusetts.

    As he has done in years past, Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has called for a city-wide moment of reflection on the tornado anniversary.

" We want to commemorate it, not celebrate it.  I've asked the houses of worship to ring the bells at 4:38 p.m.," said Sarno.

A change in the weather has helped firefighters battling a massive blaze in Fort McMurray, a Canadian oil-sands town in the province of Alberta.

Cooler temperatures and light rain have officials sounding optimistic, hopeful that the wildfire — which continues to burn — might have reached a "turning point" that will lead to its containment.

"This is great firefighting weather," Alberta fire official Chad Morrison said at a weekend news conference. "We can really get in there and really get a handle on this fire ... get a death grip on it."

Authorities have issued a mandatory evacuation order for the 80,000 residents of Fort McMurray in Alberta, where a wildfire has taken hold in the oil sands region. According to officials, it's the largest evacuation order caused by fire in the province's history.

Lori Mack / WNPR

Community members and organizations gathered for a meeting at the Consulate of Ecuador in New Haven on Monday night to discuss relief efforts following the country's 7.8 magnitude earthquake. 

A magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Ecuador on Saturday has left more than 400 people dead and many more injured.

Thousands are homeless, The Associated Press reports, and highways, air traffic control towers and buildings along the coast have collapsed.

Rescue workers were working to find and aid survivors, while officials warned the general public of the perils of digging through the rubble.

An deadly earthquake struck southern Japan on Thursday.

At least nine people were killed and more than 700 were injured, The Associated Press reports, citing the government's chief spokesman.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, a 6.2-magnitude earthquake struck near the city of Kumamoto at 9:26 p.m. local time. The organization evaluated the earthquake's damage as level red, meaning "extensive damage is probable and the disaster is likely widespread," the website said.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Wikimedia Commons

Few of us remember Hurricane Ike as vividly as we remember Katrina and Sandy. But for people down in Houston, Texas, the 2008 storm was a major wake-up call. 

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / Creative Commons

Few of us remember Hurricane Ike as vividly as we remember Katrina and Sandy. But for people down in Houston, Texas, the 2008 storm was a major wake-up call. 

The company that built a 17-story apartment building that collapsed during Saturday's earthquake in Taiwan no longer exists, but three of its former executives have been arrested as prosecutors look into allegations of shoddy building practices.

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