Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

5.4 Earthquake Rattles Croatian Capital, Forcing Residents out of Coronavirus Lockdown

Popular
5.4 Earthquake Rattles Croatian Capital, Forcing Residents out of Coronavirus Lockdown
A Croatian fireman walks past rubble in a street of downtown Zagreb, Croatia on March 22, 2020, after a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit the country. DAMIR SENCAR / AFP via Getty Images

Croatia's capital of Zagreb was rocked Sunday by its strongest earthquake in 140 years, which pushed people out into the streets at exactly the moment they were supposed to stay indoors to fight the spread of the coronavirus.


The earthquake caused widespread damage, injured 17 and forced hospitals to evacuate, The Guardian reported. But earthquake survivors also had to worry about staying apart while out in the streets.

"Keep your distance. Don't gather together. We are facing two serious crises, the earthquake and the epidemic," Interior Minister Davor Bozinovic advised, as BBC News reported.

Among the locations evacuated was a maternity hospital, according to The Guardian. Mothers and their babies stood outside in a freezing parking lot before the army moved them and their incubators to a new location.

The quake was a magnitude 5.4 according to the European Mediterranean Seismological Centre, and it rattled the city at 6:24 a.m. local time.

Initial reports said one 15-year-old was killed, but doctors then said the patient was in critical condition, The Associated Press reported. The quake also damaged several buildings, including the historic Zagreb cathedral and the country's parliament, The Guardian reported.

One spire of the cathedral, which was rebuilt following another earthquake in 1880, collapsed, and the parliament building was so badly damaged that its speaker Gordan Jandroković said sessions would have to be postponed.

"The damage is quite extensive. Walls and stairways have cracked on the upper floor and one section of the roof has been destroyed," Jandroković said.

But the earthquake wasn't the only danger facing Croatians Sunday morning. They also had to consider COVID-19, which has sickened at least 235 people in the country so far. Zagreb is on partial lockdown, The Associated Press reported. Residents had been advised to avoid public places and only gather in groups of five with distance between them.

Health Minister Vili Beros told residents to stand two meters (approximately 6.6 feet) apart as they waited in the streets.

"Earthquakes are dangerous, but coronavirus is even more so," Beros said.

Soldiers wore masks as they shoveled debris.

The government initially advised people to leave their homes, BBC News reported, but Zagreb's Mayor Milan Bandic then recommended they return home, since 80 percent of Zagreb residents live in structures reinforced with concrete.

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic acknowledged the confusion of the situation.

"We have two parallel cris[es] that contradict each other," he said, according to The Associated Press.

A net-casting ogre-faced spider. CBG Photography Group, Centre for Biodiversity Genomics / CC BY-SA 3.0

Just in time for Halloween, scientists at Cornell University have published some frightening research, especially if you're an insect!

The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.

"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."

The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.

They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.

They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.

But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.

"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.

What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.

It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.

To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.

First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.

Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.

University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.

"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."

Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.

Hoy agreed.

"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Financial institutions in New York state will now have to consider the climate-related risks of their planning strategies. Ramy Majouji / WikiMedia Commons

By Brett Wilkins

Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.

Read More Show Less

Trending

There are many different CBD oil brands in today's market. But, figuring out which brand is the best and which brand has the strongest oil might feel challenging and confusing. Our simple guide to the strongest CBD oils will point you in the right direction.

Read More Show Less
The left image shows the OSIRIS-REx collector head hovering over the Sample Return Capsule (SRC) after the Touch-And-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism arm moved it into the proper position for capture. The right image shows the collector head secured onto the capture ring in the SRC. NASA / Goddard / University of Arizona / Lockheed Martin

A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).

Read More Show Less
Exxon Mobil Refinery is seen from the top of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on March 5, 2017. WClarke / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 4.0

Exxon Mobil will lay off an estimated 14,000 workers, about 15% of its global workforce, including 1,900 workers in the U.S., the company announced Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch