March 2015 Current Events: Disasters & Science News
Here are the key events in science and disasters news for the month of March 2015.
Category Five Cyclone Hits Vanuatu (Mar. 14): A category five cyclone hits Vanuatu directly. Named Tropical Cyclone Pam, the storm carries heavy rainfall and damaging winds as strong as 168 miles per hour. At least 3,300 people seek shelter in 37 evacuation centers. (Mar. 15): An official at the United Nations (UN) Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that Cyclone Pam will likely be the South Pacific's worst natural disaster. "At least nine nations have experienced some level of devastation including Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, Fiji, Tuvalu, and Papua New Guinea. Officials have yet to assess the damage in many of the hard-hit outer islands because communications and power remain cut," the UN official says. (Mar. 17): The death toll from the cyclone is 11, according to the UN, but the number is expected to rise as the rescue effort continues.
German Jetliner Carrying 150 Passengers Crashes (Mar. 24): Germanwings Flight 9525 crashes into the French Alps while on a routine flight from Barcelona, Spain to Düsseldorf, Germany. All 144 passengers and six crew members are killed. The aircraft is operated by Germanwings, a subsidiary of Lufthansa. According to Germanwings Managing Director Thomas Winkelmann, the plane began descending at a very fast pace shortly after reaching its cruising altitude of 38,000 feet. In a news conference shortly after the crash, President of France, François Hollande, says, "We must feel grief, because this is a tragedy that happened on our soil. I want to make sure that there have been no other consequences as the accident happened in a very difficult area to access, and I do not know yet if there were houses nearby. We will know in the next few hours. In the meantime, we must show support." (Mar. 26): Using evidence from a cockpit voice recorder, investigators determine that the co-pilot deliberately crashed Flight 9525 into the French Alps. The co-pilot has been identified as 28-year-old German Audreas Lubitz. According to Lufthansa officials, there is no indication that the crash was an act of terrorism. Investigators conclude that Lubitz locked the pilot out of the cockpit before taking the aircraft into its descent.