PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 August, 2005, 12:00am

Malaysia's government-sponsored Turtle Information Centre warned that the giant leatherback turtle has virtually disappeared from its traditional nesting sites along the country's beaches in the past 25 years. Hundreds of the giant turtles used to lay their eggs in the coarse yellow sand at Rantau Abang, but only one has appeared so far this summer. The other five locations around the world where leatherbacks lay eggs have also seen sharp declines.

A bitter Antarctic chill brought freak snowstorms to southeastern Australia, forcing the closure of several major highways as well as schools. Melbourne received its first significant snowfall since June 25, 1986, while the previous major Melbourne snowfall was in 1951.

A severe Iraqi sandstorm brought Baghdad to a virtual standstill and sent hundreds of people to hospitals and clinics with respiratory distress.

More than 100 large monkeys in southwest Bangladesh's Kushtia district refused to take food for several days as they mourned the murder of one of their troup, according to press reports. Forest officer of Kushtia, Towsiful Bari Khan, told the Xinhua news agency that a young man lured the victim into a cage with a banana, then beat it to death while the other monkeys looked on.

A magnitude 5.3 tremor in southwest China injured nearly a dozen people as it wrecked about 3,700 houses along the border of Yunnan and Sichuan .

Buildings around Ho Chi Minh City were cracked by a rare earthquake centred just off the coast of southern Vietnam.

Earth movements were also felt in metropolitan Tokyo, northeastern Japan, the central Philippines, southern Iran, northwest Turkey, northern Greece, northern Italy and northern Venezuela.

A volcano on Australia's most remote territory, the tiny and uninhabited McDonald Island in the Southern Ocean, erupted for the first time since 2001.

Nicaragua's Concepcion Volcano exploded with ash and gasses, which soared above a volcanic island in the Great Lake of Nicaragua.

More than a million people in China's Zhejiang province and the city of Shanghai were evacuated before powerful Typhoon Matsa roared ashore. The storm killed at least 10 people as it uprooted thousands of trees, flooded 20,000 houses and brought down 400 high-tension power lines.

Tropical Storm Irene was expected to reach hurricane strength as it approached the southeastern United States. Hurricane Fernanda moved westward across the Pacific between Mexico and Hawaii.

An eerie parade of fish and other marine life was observed along the coast of southwest Florida, in what some believe was an attempt by the animals to escape a red-tide outbreak. Swimmers at Englewood Beach were shocked by the sight of crab, grouper, snapper, eel, shrimp, flounder and other sea creatures - all swimming southward in a mile-long narrow band.