Emergency and disaster management briefing for March 8, 2021: An outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has killed four people; the Aviation Color Code was raised to Red after the latest eruption on Mount Etna; estimated agriculture losses after the recent winter storm top $600 million in Texas; supply chain impacts continue after freight movements were disrupted during February’s winter storm in the South; a Microsoft Exchange hack compromised OWA servers for at least 100,000 organizations worldwide; government officials stated that 20 people are dead and at least 600 injured after dynamite was mishandled in Equatorial Guinea; irradiated water handling continues to plague Fukushima’s decommissioning; and CISA just released a Public Safety UAS Resource Guide for emergency responders.
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1. A recent outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Africa, has infected 18 people and killed a total of four. Of the total cases, 14 are confirmed, and the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that a total of 1,600 individuals are now vaccinated. According to WHO, there are a total of only 30,000 vaccines available in the nation, while the global stock sits at about 500,000.
2. Amid another spectacular eruption on Sunday of Italy’s Mount Etna, the Aviation Color Code was raised to its highest level — Red. The eruption burst from a new southeast crater, shooting lava columns into the sky, along with volcanic fragments and gases. According to officials, strong ash and lapilli fall is impacting towns situated along the eastern flank of Etna, including Milo, Giarre, and Zafferana.
3. The winter ice storm that crippled Houston and a major portion of the Southern United States also affected agriculture and freight movements. Crop and livestock losses in Texas are likely to surpass $600 million and may lead to temporary shortages of certain products, such as sweet onions and cabbage. Major Texas crop losses included newborn calves, Valencia oranges and newly planted watermelon crops.
4. Freight movements virtually halted amid the winter storm that gripped the South in February, which knocked out power and closed critical major roadways. The worst-hit states were Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. Power outages in Texas shut down processing plants, which in turn prevented trucks from offloading cargo for days. Disruptions in supply chains are ongoing as processing plants work to clear backlogs and shipping companies recover from disrupted delivery schedules.
5. Tens of thousands of U.S. organizations and nearly 100,000 companies worldwide were likely impacted by a Microsoft Exchange hack to OWA servers connected to the internet. According to reports, defense industry base entities may have been compromised in the recent hack, which occurred between February 26 and March 3. Emergency patches were issued by Microsoft on Tuesday; however, they only worked for those systems not already infected.
6. A series of explosions at military barracks in Equatorial Guinea killed 20 and injured another 600 people. Reports indicate that nearly all the homes and buildings in Bata were destroyed by the explosions, and more people are feared to be trapped beneath the rubble. The incident occurred on Sunday, and government officials noted that it was allegedly due to the improper handling of dynamite.
7. The decommissioning of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant continues 10 years after its catastrophic meltdown, following a major earthquake and tsunami in March of 2011. After helping cool the reactor, irradiated water has been difficult to reduce and contain, with space for special steel reservoirs on the facility grounds rapidly diminishing. Now, officials in charge of water decontamination efforts stated that the daily amount of irradiated water has been reduced to just 140 cubic meters, down from about 540 cubic meters a day in 2014.
8. The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) just released a Public Safety UAS Resource Guide for emergency responders. The new guide provides links to resources and other publications to assist organizations with the use of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), or for encounters with these systems as may be the case during a multi-jurisdictional emergency response. Available resources cover topics such as responding to or encountering unfamiliar or malicious UAS, using UAS, and engaging with the community.