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News round up May 2015

A selection of geographical stories that have made the headlines this month.


  1. US-China tensions rise over Beijing's 'Great Wall of Sand'
  2. Around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, boats thought to be Chinese dredgers have been seen building up sand on top of reefs and creating new islands. The exact reasons for this are unclear but with some of the reefs already claimed by the Philippines, it is thought China are creating the means to make claims over large sections of the sea.

  3. India Heatwave kills 800 as capital's roads melt
  4. People in large parts of India have been warned to stay indoors and avoid the sun as hospitals have become overwhelmed by people suffering from heat stroke. Temperatures of between 45C and 50C have been felt nationwide and officials believe the death toll from temperature related causes is only likely to increase further.

  5. Galapagos Islands volcano erupts in spectacular fashion
  6. For the first time in over thirty years, Wolf Volcano on the Isabella Island, in the Galapagos archipelago has erupted. The eruption threatens the world's only population of rare pink iguanas that uses the volcano slopes as a home. Lava has flowed down the volcano sides and smoke and ash have been ejected too.

  7. 'Nightmare' California oil spill damages rare coastal ecosystem
  8. A twenty three square kilometre oil spill has blackened a popular California beach and coated its delicate and rare Mediterranean ecosystem in at least 105,000 gallons of oil. The oil, from a leak in an underground pipeline, came through storm drains and flowed directly into the ocean.

  9. At least 52 dead in Colombia after flood and mudslide sweep away homes
  10. The town of Salgar in Columbia is recovering after a mudslide ran through a home-lined ravine following heavy rains. Survivors were evacuated via helicopters but many people are still missing and the death toll is expected to rise further. The town's aqueduct was also destroyed and electrical supplies to the area have had to be suspended.

  11. Migrant crisis: 800 taken ashore in Indonesia but two other boats turned away
  12. Away from the Mediterranean and a new migrant crisis is being seen as thousands of economic migrants, largely from Bangladesh, and persecuted Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar make their way through south east Asian waters. Some ships have been abandoned by smugglers as they are turned away from Indonesia and Malaysia, causing campaigners to urge these governments to keep their borders open to these vulnerable people.