By Grace Ostuni
On Feb. 3, a freight train carrying hazardous materials derailed in East Palestine, Ohio because of an overheated wheel bearing. Eleven train cars carrying several chemicals such as vinyl chloride, ethylene glycol and isobutylene were overturned.
There have been no reported fatalities or injuries. Immediately following the crash, nearby residents were evacuated for fear of an explosion. However, after a controlled burn of the chemicals, these residents were allowed back into their homes.
“Air quality samples in the area of the wreckage and in nearby residential neighborhoods have consistently showed readings at points below safety screening levels for contaminants of concern,” said authorities as of Feb. 8.
Some residents have expressed their concern over how the air has begun to smell. The Environmental Protection Agency stated, “people may smell these contaminants at levels much lower than what is considered hazardous.”
On Feb. 12, West Virginia American Water reported that toxin levels in raw intake water from the Ohio River had not changed from the normal.
Some have begun to consider this an environmental disaster. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources estimates that about 3,500 fish have died in the 7.5 miles of stream that the disaster affected. Others have reported the deaths of frogs, chickens, dogs and foxes. Experts report that cleanup of the site could take months.
On Feb. 13, 43-year-old Anthony Dwayne McRae fatally shot three students and wounded others at Michigan State University.
The victims are Alexandria Verner, Brian Fraser and Arielle Anderson. The five injured students are unnamed and still in critical condition. McRae had no known ties to MSU. The gunman died hours after the first gunshots from self-inflicted injuries.
“I thought I was going to die,” said Claire Papoulias, a student at MSU. “The teacher was presenting a lesson and all of a sudden, I heard gunshots directly behind me. That’s when the shooter opened the back classroom door and started firing at my classmates in the back, wounded them.” Papoulias said they would not have escaped alive without the help of the other students.
Some smashed a window and helped others through while others gave emergency first aid to those who had been shot.
McRae’s father says his son has a history of mental illness beginning after McRae’s mother died from a stroke.
On Sunday, the Kansas City Chiefs won Superbowl LVII with a final score of 38-35 against the Philadelphia Eagles.
With under two minutes remaining in the game, the score was tied 35-35. After running the clock while keeping possession of the ball, the Chiefs made a field goal with only a few seconds remaining, earning them victory.
This is the second NFL title the Chiefs have won in the last four years. In the first half of the game, the Eagles had taken the lead.
“In that first half, we were playing and doing some good stuff, but I felt like the guys were getting consumed by everything around us,” said Patrick Mahomes, quarterback for the Chiefs. This game saw him earn his second Super Bowl MVP award. He refused to take the credit for the win, however. “It took everybody to win the game,” stated Mahomes.
Following the Eagles’ loss, fans expressed anger over field conditions. The NFL spent over a year creating a new grass surface which some players ultimately reported to be too slippery. The Eagles’ left tackle, Jordan Mailata, said it was like “playing in a water park.” Additionally, Jake Elliot, kicker for the Eagles, slipped during a kickoff allegedly due to these conditions.
Feb. 6 saw one of the deadliest natural disasters in Turkey’s modern history. Turkey and Syria underwent two earthquakes of magnitudes over 7.0 on the Richter scale.
The earthquakes and the aftershocks destroyed thousands of buildings, killing over 44,000 people and displacing millions. Cold weather has hindered rescue efforts. Many who have been rescued still wait to hear from family members or friends.
“For every one you’re able to be successful on, there’s another 10 in the next hour where … we can’t find any signs of life. I don’t think there’s anything to prepare for that,” said Jim Chaston, a firefighter from the United Kingdom.
The UK, U.S., and over 40 other countries have offered to help in rescue efforts. Nations such as Spain are accepting displaced refugees following the earthquake.
The earthquake has been described as the “disaster of the century” by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, president of Turkey. Erdoğan has declared seven days of national mourning.
On Feb. 11, British police apprehended a man in the act of stealing $48,000 worth of Cadbury Eggs. 32-year-old Joby Pool stole a semi-truck which contained 200,000 crème eggs.
“Along with the crème eggs, a number of other chocolate varieties were also stolen,” said West Mercia Police. The eggs were stolen from a unit in Stafford Park in western England. The chocolates were recovered when Pool was stopped by highway police. According to authorities, he didn’t offer any resistance.
“This clearly wasn’t spur of the moment … because he had taken with him a tractor unit and he had to know that the load was there in the first place,” said prosecutor Owen Beale.
Pool used a metal grinder to break into the industrial unit. Pool had previous convictions in 2019 for offenses including theft, handling stolen goods, and driving while disqualified. John McMillan, the solicitor for Pool, said, “There has been no interference with the food products that were taken, they will be in a condition that they can go back on the shelves.”
Pool has plead guilty to charges of criminal damage and two counts of theft and will be sentenced in March.
Cyclone Gabrielle hit New Zealand on Feb. 13, causing a state of emergency to be declared. The cyclone mainly hit coastal areas, affecting about a third of the country’s population.
“Cyclone Gabrielle is the most significant weather event New Zealand has seen in this century…the impact is significant and widespread,” said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.
New Zealand has since recieved over 7 million dollars in aid. Over 10,000 residents have been displaced and eight people been killed as a result of flooding and landslides. The floods enveloped houses and buildings, leaving many people stranded on roofs. Military helicopters were unable to conduct immediate rescues because of the dangerous weather.
Authorities are currently working to repair water treatment facilities so that citizens can have access to clean water. Authorities and rescue teams are still reaching out to neighborhoods where people are stranded because of the storm with no means of communication.