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Archive for the ‘Natural Disasters’ Category

Bangladesh, Myanmar relieved as cyclone fizzles

May 17, 2013

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh (AP) — A once-fearsome cyclone that was threatening Bangladesh and Myanmar dissipated quickly, causing some deaths but largely relieving authorities who had told more than 1 million people to leave vulnerable coastal areas in preparation for a far worse storm.

Cyclone Mahasan lost power as it shed huge amounts of rain and then veered west of its predicted path, sparing major Bangladeshi population areas, including Chittagong and the seaside resort of Cox’s Bazar, said Mohammad Shah Alam, director of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

Coastal areas were spared major damage because it hit Thursday afternoon during low tide, causing no major tidal surge, he said. “Thank God we have been spared this time,” local government administrator Ruhul Amin said.

Before the storm threat weakened, Bangladesh had evacuated 1 million people, and the United Nations warned that 8.2 million people could face life-threatening conditions. Myanmar was spared almost entirely. Evacuation attempts there had met with frustration as some of the tens of thousands of displaced Rohingya people in western Rakhine state were wary about the government’s order and refused to leave.

“It’s all over, and we are very relieved that we didn’t have any unfortunate incident in Rakhine state due to the cyclone,” Win Myaing, Rakhine’s regional spokesman said. In Cox’s Bazar, tens of thousands of people had fled shanty homes along the coast and packed into cyclone shelters, hotels, schools and government office buildings. But by Thursday afternoon, the sun was shining and Amin said he planned to close the shelters by the evening.

The storm’s slow movement toward Bangladesh gave the government plenty of warning to get people to safety, Amin said. “But for the evacuation, the casualties would have been higher,” he said. Ferry services in the delta nation resumed Thursday night after being suspended in advance of the cyclone. Scores of factories near the choppy Bay of Bengal had been closed, and the military said it kept 22 navy ships and 19 Air Force helicopters at the ready.

A 1991 cyclone that slammed into Bangladesh from the Bay of Bengal killed an estimated 139,000 people and left millions homeless. In 2008, Myanmar’s southern delta was devastated by Cyclone Nargis, which swept away entire farming villages and killed more than 130,000 people. Both those cyclones were much more powerful than Mahasen, which hit land with maximum wind speeds of about 100 kph (62 mph) and quickly weakened, said Alam, the meteorological official.

By the time it hit Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar, wind speeds had plunged to 25 kph (16 mph), Alam said. The storm then dissipated entirely, he said. Bangladesh counted at least 10 deaths, most from the collapse of mud walls or by fallen trees. Related heavy rains and flooding had been blamed for eight deaths in Sri Lanka earlier this week.

At least eight people — and possibly many more — were killed in Myanmar as they fled the cyclone Monday night, when overcrowded boats carrying more than 100 Rohingya capsized. Only 43 people had been rescued by Thursday, and more than 50 were still missing.

Babul Akther, a Bangladeshi police official in Tekhnaf close to Myanmar border, said police there found 19 bodies Thursday in the Naaf River, which separates the two nations. He said most of the bodies were of children, and they suspect they are victims of Monday’s boat capsizings.

Much of the fears about the storm’s impact had been focused on western Myanmar because of the crowded, low-lying camps Rohingya were refusing to evacuate. U.N. officials, hoping they would inspire greater trust than the government, had worked to encourage people to leave.

In Rakhine state, around 140,000 people — mostly Rohingya — have been living in the camps since last year, when two outbreaks of sectarian violence between the Muslim minority and ethnic Rakhine Buddhists forced many Rohingya from their homes.

Nearly half the displaced live in coastal areas that were considered highly vulnerable to storm surges and flooding from Cyclone Mahasen. “Pack and leave,” a Rakhine state official, U Hla Maung, warned before the storm hit as he walked through a camp near Sittwe, the state capital. Accompanied by more than a dozen soldiers and riot police, he suggested that people living there move to a nearby railroad embankment, then left without offering help.

Some Rohingya took down their tents and hauled their belongings away in cycle-rickshaws, or carried them in bags balanced on their heads. Ko Hla Maung, an unemployed fisherman, was among those who had not left as of Thursday morning.

“We have no safe place to move, so we’re staying here, whether the storm comes or not,” he said. “… The soldiers want to take us to a village closer to the sea, and we’re not going to do that. … If the storm is coming, then that village will be destroyed.”

Associated Press writers Tim Sullivan in Sittwe, Myanmar, Yadana Htun and Aye Aye Win in Yangon, Myanmar, Jocelyn Gecker in Bangkok and Julhas Alam in Dhaka, Bangladesh, contributed to this report.

Quake rocks Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant

Tokyo (AFP)
Sept 29, 2011

A 5.6-magnitude earthquake shook an area of northeast Japan which includes the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Thursday but there were no reports of damage to the facility, officials said.

The moderate quake struck offshore near the coast of Fukushima at 7:05 pm (1005 GMT) with a “very shallow” focus, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

There were no fears of a tsunami following the tremor, the agency said.

“The quake has not caused anything abnormal at Fukushima Daiichi,” Masashi Kato, a spokesman for the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co., told AFP.

“The plant is continuing its normal operations including the injection of water into the (molten) reactor cores,” he added.

There were no immediate reports of injuries or property damage elsewhere.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake on March 11 triggered a monster tsunami which killed some 20,000 people and crippled cooling systems at the plant, causing meltdowns in some of its reactors.

Source: Terra Daily.

Biggest earthquake in 20 years in Northeast

Monday, September 19, 2011

Shillong, Sept 19: The northeastern region on Sunday experienced the biggest earthquake in 20 years. The earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter Scale which hit the east and Northeast region, was the biggest in 20 years, officials said.

Records of Central Seismological Observatory showed increasing seismic activity in the region.
A total of 34 quakes of light and moderate intensity were felt in the region in 2009. The area witnessed 26 earthquakes each in 2008 and 2007, while it was 23 in 2006, the data showed.

On February 4 this year, a quake of 6.4 magnitude with its epicenter in the Indo-Myanmar border in Manipur shook the region. An earthquake of similar intensity (6.8) had rocked the northeast on August 6, 1988.

On October 11, 2000 a quake of 6.0 intensity was felt in the region, while on September 21, 2009, another measuring 6.2 had claimed six lives in neighboring Bhutan, where it was epicenter.

The north eastern region had experienced some of the world’s worst quakes like the Shillong quake and the Assam quake of 1950 both measuring around 8.5.

An earthquake in 1897 in Shillong plateau had left 1,542 people dead.

Source: One India.

Fresh Floods Cripple Pakistan, Still in Recovery Mode From Last Year

By Jack Phillips
September 13, 2011

Thailand affected by mass floods from same monsoon rains

Still rebuilding after last year’s devastating floods, Pakistan was pounded with another round of heavy Monsoon rains, causing flooding in its biggest city, Karachi, and other areas in the south. The same heavy rains have affected thousands in Thailand as well.

The United Nations estimates that more than 220,000 people have been displaced due to flooding in Pakistan and another 5 million have been negatively affected. At least 200 people have died.

Aid groups say that more than 700,000 families are still living in temporary shelters after they were forced to leave their homes in the 2010 floods that affected the whole country, impacting some 20 million people. Around one-fifth of the country was submerged underwater, causing more than $10 billion in damage.

Since late August of this year, the floods have destroyed or damaged nearly a million homes and inundated 4.2 million acres of land, mostly in the southern province of Sindh.

Zafar Iqbal Qadir, the head of Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Authority, called on the international community for aid relief before the disaster worsens, as more rain is on the way. “The help is to be provided now before this disaster consumes more human lives in the country,” he appealed in a statement.

The U.N. World Food Program said it is transporting a half million food rations to affected persons, while the Pakistani government has provided 512,000 food rations. More than 4,000 camps have been set up, while the government is trying to secure another 100,000 tents.

“Now is a crucial time to stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan, and build on the lessons learned from the recent 2010 floods response to support the Government of Pakistan in their ongoing monsoon relief efforts,” stated Timo Pakkala, the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator in Pakistan.

Aid groups have warned that the Pakistani government needed to improve on its infrastructure to prevent further floods to avoid another disaster. Two months ago when the monsoon season began, aid group Oxfam released a report saying that some families started to dismantle their homes and move to higher ground.

Floods Affect Thailand

The same monsoon rains assailing Pakistan have also caused mass floods in Thailand, although the damage does not look to be as severe. As of Tuesday, there were 82 confirmed deaths attributed to the floods.

The Thai Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation warned that heavy rains could cause forest runoff and mudslides in 35 of the nation’s 76 provinces, adding that people living in lowlands should remain alert, according to the Bangkok Post.

More than 570,000 people have already been affected due to the floods in 16 provinces, the Department said.

In Ayutthaya province in central Thailand—home to the ruins of Siam’s ancient capital of Ayutthaya, a UNESCO Heritage World Site—at least 100 elephants had to be evacuated to higher ground after two nearby rivers swelled and flooded several nearby communities.

Source: The Epoch Times.

Three dead as 6.6-magnitude quake hits Indonesia

Subulussalam, Indonesia (AFP)
Sept 6, 2011

Three people were killed Tuesday when a 6.6-magnitude earthquake hit Indonesia’s Sumatra island, officials said.

The quake struck deep underground shortly after midnight around 400 kilometers (250 miles) southeast of Banda Aceh on the northern tip of Sumatra, the US Geological Survey said.

Falling debris killed a 10-year-old boy as he slept in his home in Subulussalam, Aceh province, a doctor said.

“The boy was sleeping next to his mother when a wall collapsed and bricks fell onto his stomach, crushing him. His mother brought him to us but we couldn’t save him in time,” the doctor, named Hasbi, said.

Two other people were killed in separate incidents, the National Disaster Management Agency said.

Panicked residents rushed out of their homes, many crying and screaming for help, as the quake shook the area for around two minutes, according to an AFP correspondent.

“That was the strongest quake I’d ever felt. I thought the end of the world was here,” 42-year-old farmer Abdul Kader Angkat said.

The jolt was also felt by residents in the cities of Banda Aceh and Medan, officials said.

The Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said the quake was too far inland to generate a tsunami.

Indonesia sits on the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, where the collision of continental plates causes high seismic activity.

Aceh was devastated when a 9.1-magnitude quake off Sumatra in December 2004 triggered a huge tsunami that killed more than 220,000 people around the Indian Ocean.

Source: Terra Daily.

Death toll reaches 38 after Typhoon Talas hits Japan

TOKYO (BNO NEWS) — The death toll after powerful Typhoon Talas slammed western Japan during the weekend has increased to at least 38, officials said on Monday evening. Dozens more remain missing in what is now one of the worst typhoons to hit the country in recent years.

Typhoon Talas emerged as an area of low pressure west of Guam on August 22 before strengthening into a typhoon as it accelerated towards Japan. It made landfall over Kochi Prefecture on early Saturday and then tore a path of destruction through western Japan as it moved toward the northeast.

As of Monday evening, officials confirmed at least 38 people had been killed in western Japan as a result of Talas, while more than 50 people are still missing and feared to have been killed. The death toll is the highest from a typhoon in Japan since Typhoon Tokage killed at least 94 people in October 2004.

Police forces, firefighters, and Japanese Self-Defense forces (SDF) continued to carry out search and rescue operations on Monday as blackouts continue to affect tens of thousands. As of 3 p.m. local time on Monday, electricity and phone lines were out in Mie, Nara and Wakayama prefectures, with roughly 194,000 households in the Kansai Electric Power Co.’s service area experiencing blackouts

SDF helicopters have been deployed to the region and are trying to reach residents in the municipalities of Nachikatsuura, Tanabe, Shingu and Hidakagawa, as around 4,700 people have been trapped in the area by landslides and floods.

However, with flooding rivers, damaged roads, and mudslides, officials fear to eventual death toll could be much higher. An unknown number of people have also been injured.

Talas was the 12th named storm, the 7th severe tropical storm and the 5th typhoon of the 2011 Pacific typhoon season. The season runs throughout 2011, with most tropical cyclones forming between May and November.

In July, the City University of Hong Kong predicted a total number of 31 tropical cyclones to form in the western North Pacific, of which 27 would become tropical storms and 17 which would further grow into a typhoon.

Monday, September 5th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.

Irene death toll rises to 25 in US

Mon Aug 29, 2011

The death toll from Hurricane Irene’s onslaught on the East Coast of the United States has risen to 25, as the tropical storm makes its way to eastern Canada, Press TV reported.

Twenty five people were killed across eight states of the United States by toppled trees and other hurricane-related incidents.

Moreover, the storm left some 4.5 million households and business units in the US without power and inflicted an estimated USD 7 to 13 billion in damage.

The US State of Vermont witnessed seven inches of rain early Monday.

Irene has now reached Canada after leaving a trail of destruction across the northeastern US.

Strong winds battered parts of Canada’s Quebec and the Atlantic provinces on Monday morning.

The US National Hurricane Center has downgraded Hurricane Irene to a post-tropical cyclone.

US President Barack Obama on Sunday warned that the dangers of the tropical storm will not be over even after Irene leaves the US.

“Many Americans are still at serious risk of power outages and flooding, which could get worse in the coming days as rivers swell past their banks,” Obama said.

“I do want to underscore, that the impact of the storm will be felt for some time. And the recovery effort will last for weeks or longer,” Obama added.

Source: PressTV.

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