Thursday, June 12, 2008

Eclipses, Earthquakes and Enterovirus-71

Mongolians are wondering how the impending solar eclipse will affect tourism in their country. There was less-than-anticipated crowd during the last such eclipse. While I would be interested in observing the eclipse, I was more interested in some of the customs observed by Mongoliands during this pheomenon. According to the UB Post, "In order to rid Rahu [enemy of the sky], Mongolians have some rituals to do during an eclipse: to make their dog bark (specially a four-eyed banhar), to make any three year old child cry, to fire a gun, and to make noise using kitchenware.” I'm certain that Elijah is glad we won't be there for people to try to make him cry.

A 4.2 magnitude earthquake has hit western Mongolia, causing widespread panic. Many people fled their apartments to stay in one-story dwellings or gers. This apparently followed widespread fears last week that an earthquake was about to hit UB. Unfortunately, seismology has not advance to the point where such quakes can be predicted.

On a brighter note, the hand-foot-mouth disease epidemic appears to be slowing. The rate of new infections has dropped to ten new cases per day, a drop from one hundred cases per day. Still, schools remain closed and public activities for children are prohibited. More than 2,000 have contracted the virus, including more than 1,000 in UB. Nearly 200 children are still in the hospital, while 800 more are under a doctor's care.

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