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Posts tagged ‘Natural Disasters’

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.

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.

At least 20 killed in Nigeria flooding

ABUJA (BNO NEWS) — At least 20 people have been killed and thousands displaced by heavy flooding in and around the southwestern Nigerian city of Ibadan, officials said on Sunday.

A dam overflowed and washed away numerous buildings and bridges in the region, following heavy rains which began on Friday, according to the BBC. “It’s a very serious situation,” said Yushau Shuaib, an official in the city, 150 kilometers (90 miles) north of Lagos.

Hundreds of cars were also reported to have been submerged in the floods, while businesses and farmlands were also damaged. Shuaib told the BBC it was impossible to give an accurate figure of those displaced, but said that it was “definitely in the thousands”.

On Tuesday, more than 150 houses were destroyed in the village of Kari, which is located in Darazo of Bauchi state, after six hours of nonstop rain. At least four people were reportedly killed as rain-triggered floods washed away hundreds of livestock, and other goods such as vehicles, motorcycles, and bicycles.

And in late June, at least 24 people were killed and many others were injured when torrential rains flooded the northern city of Kano. Numerous buildings collapsed and were destroyed.

According to authorities, more than 500,000 people across the country, mostly in the North, were displaced last year by flooding. The National Emergency Management Agency recently warned state governments in the North to take preventive measures against floods.

More than 300 people were killed across western and central Africa in the 2010 rainy season.

Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Source: WireUpdate.

Japan Gov’t Officially Launches Reconstruction Agency of Earthquake


Japanese government officially launched on Friday a reconstruction agency to promote the recovery work of areas devastated by the March 11th earthquake.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and the new agency’s first head Tatsuo Hirano held press conference separately Friday evening after the lunch ceremony.

Noda explained that when Hirano was the disaster minister in July last year, he almost visited the disaster hit areas every week, made a lot of contributions to the remonstration works, Hirano is well familiar with the situation in the affected areas, that’s the reason why he chose Hirano.

“Weather the power of the new agency could be used appropriately is the key weather the reconstruction agency could operate properly, is also the key of reconstructions for all quake- hit areas. I will play my leading role better as the Prime Minister of Japan.” Noda said.

Noda also announced his 5 main tasks in next stage of reconstructions in devastated areas at the press conference, including new house remonstrations, garbage disposal, and employment guarantee, victims’ psychological consulting and nuclear accident victims’ returning.

Tatsuo Hirano, the 57-year-old new minister of reconstruction agency, was born in Iwate prefecture, one of the worst hit prefectures, vowed to take helm in rebuilding works.

Hirano encouraged the officials who work in the Tokyo headquarters to make utmost effort to accelerate reconstructions together and always sincerely respond to the victims’ calls in the press conference later Friday.

The headquarters of the reconstruction agency is located in Akasaka, and there are three main local reconstruction bureaus in Morioka, Sendai and Fukushima, the capitals of three worst hit prefectures, Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima respectively, with total 250 officials.

The reconstruction agency was planed to operate about 10 years until the end of March 2021, mainly dealing with questions about making reconstruction policy, settling down the location of special rebuild area, allotting reconstruction funds, and coordinating with other related departments to promote reconstruction.

“The material of making the wooded tablet outside the reconstruction agency is from the earthquake hit area. We want to take this as a warning that we should always remember the expectations form the residents in earthquake hit area, that’s our heavy responsibility,” said Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda when he attended the lunch ceremony in downtown Tokyo.

Noda appointed Tatsuo Hirano as head of the reconstruction agency one day ahead.

Last December, Japan’s lower house of parliament passed the bill on establishing a new agency to bolster efforts to rebuild areas ravaged by the natural disaster and bring cabinet members to a maximum 18 by adding a new member.

Source: CRIEnglish.

Flash floods threaten quake-hit regions

MANILA, Philippines, Feb. 10 (UPI) — The central Philippines, hit by an earthquake that killed dozens and pounded by hundreds of aftershocks all week, was threatened by flash flooding Friday.

Heavy rains lashed the Negros province, which took the brunt of Monday’s 6.7-magnitude offshore earthquake, hampering the efforts of rescuers looking for bodies and survivors buried under landslides and toppled homes in Negros and neighboring provinces.

The Philippine army placed the death toll at 48 but the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council put the official toll at 34, the Philippine Star reported Friday.

The Philippine News Agency, quoting the Negros provincial government, said as of Wednesday at least 50 people remained missing.

The worst hit towns in Negros located in the Visayas island chain in central Philippines were Guihulngan, Jimalalud, La Libertad, Tayasan, Ayungon, Manjuyod and Bindoy.

There has been much damage in the quake-hit regions with bridges made impassable, roads crumbled, hundreds of families with no homes and essential services badly hit. Since Monday, more than 1,000 aftershocks, some strong, have terrorized the survivors.

Speedy repair of bridges and roads remained a priority to bring in heavy equipment for cleanup and rescue operations and to transport relief supplies.

Now with the onset of rains, the situation could worsen.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said flash floods and landslides threatened the region, including Negros, the Star reported.

Disaster council Executive Director Benito Ramos said the rains and aftershocks also posed risks to rescue teams, which were forced to temporarily suspend their efforts.

“It [the suspension of search and rescue operations] is only temporary because of the rains. Aftershocks are also being experienced. It was dangerous. Our responders might get buried,” Ramos was quoted as saying. He said the operations would resume Friday if the situation improved, although hopes of finding anyone alive in the rubble were fading.

The government of Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III sought to contain criticism that not enough was being done for the victims.

The president’s office said the government would do all it could to save human lives and help the survivors, the Philippine News Agency reported.

“You have to take into consideration the physical difficulties there,” a presidential spokesman said.

Aquino observed his 52nd birthday Wednesday visiting disaster areas in Negros and overseeing relief and reconstruction operations, the report said.

Source: United Press International (UPI).

Europe sends in ice-breakers to battle big chill

Belgrade (AFP)
Feb 7, 2012

Authorities employed explosives, icebreakers and tractors Tuesday in the battle to overcome Europe’s big freeze, as dozens more died of hypothermia and tens of thousands remained cut off by snow.

Around 400 people have now died from the cold weather in Europe since the cold snap began 11 days ago and forecasters warned there would be no early let-up to some of the lowest temperatures seen in decades.

While there was some respite for people in Ukraine — where more than 130 deaths have been recorded — the mercury plunged overnight to minus 39.4 degrees Celsius (-38.9 Fahrenheit) in the Kvilda region of the Czech Republic.

More bodies were found either on the streets, in their cars or in their homes in Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Hungary and across the Balkans.

Authorities in Serbia said that 70,000 people were trapped in snow-bound villages in the south as officials declared an “emergency situation”.

In a dramatic effort to prevent two of the country’s main waterways from becoming completely blocked, officials called up army explosive experts.

As ice layers threatened to cause widespread floods on the Ibar, Alexander Prodanovic, the country’s top water official, said dynamite would be detonated to break up the huge blocks which had formed.

Authorities also hired icebreaking ships from Hungary to ease the flow on the Danube, the main waterway for all commercial shipping in Serbia. The port authority said the Danube was navigable around Belgrade but with difficulty.

There was similar chaos elsewhere in the Balkans with train linking Croatia’s central coastal town of Split and the capital Zagreb derailing as a result of a snow drift. There were no reports of injuries.

The army, firefighters and rescue services were trying to get food and medicine to the population in several hundred villages in southern Croatia where snow up to 1.4 meters (4.6 feet) high was piled up.

“This is a disaster, we have been cut off from the rest of the world … Snowploughs cannot reach us, so we have to walk to get some bread and basic things,” Marko Ancic told the Slobodna Dalmacija daily after trekking some 17 kilometers (10 miles) from his village to reach the nearest town.

Large parts of eastern and southern Bosnia were also cut off by the snow and avalanches. There has been no contact since Friday with the hamlet of Zijemlje, some 30 kilometers from the town of Mostar.

“We don’t know what is going on there. They have not had electricity since Friday and phone lines are cut, they have no running water,” Radovan Palavestra, the mayor of Mostar, told AFP.

“There are elderly people who are very fragile and children including a baby of two months.”

A helicopter which should have flown in aid to Zijemlje was unable to take off Tuesday morning because of heavy snowfall.

In Romania, two heavily pregnant women had to be flown out by helicopter in the eastern area of Iasi after their villages were completely cut off. Another pregnant woman had to be ferried to hospital by tractor in the eastern Paltinis area after her ambulance became stuck in the snow.

Schools were shut in large parts of the country, including Bucharest, while many train services were cancelled. Around 40 percent of roads were also closed, although flights did resume from Bucharest airport.

Snowstorms lashed Bulgaria, a day after eight people drowned in raging rivers and the icy waters from a broken dam that submerged a whole village to the southeast.

A Briton living on the Greek island of Symi drowned in a river which had been swollen by heavy rains as he tried to move his moped to safety.

The numbers killed by hypothermia in Poland rose to 68 after the authorities there recorded another six deaths in the last 24 hours. The majority of those who have died were homeless, many of whom had been drinking heavily.

The cold snap has also seen a sharp rise in the number of people being killed by carbon monoxide poisoning from faulty gas heaters.

According to the state weather forecaster in Ukraine, temperatures there could rise to a relatively modest minus six degrees. But the respite will be short-lived with temperatures expected to plunge to minus 30 by the weekend.

The UN weather service said temperatures would remain low until March.

“We might expect the change in the current cold wave to to start easing from the start of next week up to the end of the month,” Omar Baddour, a scientist at the World Meteorological Organization, told reporters.

It was a similar message from Britain where forecasters said the cold spell could last for two more weeks and heavy snow at the weekend.

And in France, authorities appealed to households to save power where possible as they predicted electricity use could hit a record high.

Source: Terra Daily.

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