The week has globally witnessed an array of natural and man-made disasters such as devastating cyclones in the Philippines; floods, landslides in Indonesia and Sri Lanka due to the impact of North East (NE) Monsoon. On the other hand, Bush Fire in New South Wales (NSW) has further engulfed more locations and is expanding towards Sydney. In central Asia, Kazakhstan has seen a horrific plane crash in Almaty, that claimed over fifteen lives. In India, the Indo Gangetic Plain continued to face severe cold waves with record-breaking minimum temperatures and bone-chilling winter that has paralyzed lives across the region. Several lives have been reported lost due to road accidents in dense fog. The week has again recorded mild earthquake tremors in the Chamoli district of Uttarakhand.
The bush fires in the eastern coastal district of New South Wales (NSW), Australia is still spreading to neighboring areas including parts of the capital city of Sydney. The fire has so far destroyed over four million hectares of areas since September this year with the loss of few lives. The fire authorities are fearing that with this rate of spreading, the fire could damage a vital water source in the district, ‘the Warragamba Dam’ that supplies water to the majority of the population in Sydney. Authorities are vigilantly making early preparedness measures to save the critical system of dam’s water supply such as ‘Water Treatment Plants, Pumping Stations, Pipes’ etc. Warragamba Dam is a concrete gravity dam located about 40 miles west of Sydney. The lake ‘Burragorang’ is the main reservoir of the dam that receives water from the Blue Mountain. The water authority of the state ‘Water NSW’ maintains the supply of water to this region. it is feared that fire may again spread in more new locations in the coming week.
Hy-met Disasters in Sri Lanka
The heavy rainfall triggered by the delayed North East (NE) monsoon has severely disrupted Sri Lanka with flooding and landslides in about 13 districts of North, North Central and Eastern province as well as Central highlands. The disasters caused due to inclement weather have claimed the lives of at least three people and affected over sixty thousand in the affected parts of the country. Many houses have been fully or partially damaged due to disasters. Landslides have also been reported from vulnerable districts of Haputale, Matale, Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, Badulla, etc. Due to heavy rainfall, all the main reservoirs like Parakrama Samudraya, Deduru Oya, Rajanganaya, Lunugamvehera, Thabbowa, and Kotmale are reported to have in the peak full storage level and hence many of their sluice gates have been opened to avert further disasters. The most affected districts are Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Badulla, Batticaloa, and Puttlam in the central highland province. The newly elected president Gotabaya Rajapaksa visited on 23rd December, the two worst affected districts of Polonnaruwa and Anuradhapura to oversee relief measures.
These disasters can be seen in the backdrop of the northeast monsoon. In parts of South Asia and South East Asia, the arrival of NE monsoon takes place from October to December, which causes rainfall in the Indian states like Tamil Nadu, east coastal states and parts of neighboring countries like Sri Lanka and some South and Southeast Asian countries. The recent flooding and landslides in western Sumatra and Riau states of Indonesia on 21st December can also be seen in the backdrop of this monsoon. Disasters in Indonesia recently have killed seven people and affected over ten thousand population.
The former capital of the Republic of Burundi, Bujumbura suffered from flash floods on the 21st of December due to torrential rainfall and strong winds that killed 14 people with over 30 injured.
The flood has damaged several homes and critical infrastructures in Bujumbura. According to Burundi Red Cross, around 1200 people have been badly affected due to this disaster. The incident occurred when torrential rainfall caused tree trunks and debris from uphill regions to accumulate in the main course of river ‘Cari’ that ultimately broken its banks near northern Bujumbura districts. The Ministry of Public Security and Disaster Management of Burundi along with Burundi Red Cross carried out extensive search and rescue operations and subsequently relief and rehabilitation for the affected communities.
Every year, eastern African countries are affected by unusually heavy torrential rainfall, which causes flooding and landslides leading to disasters. Although the dedicated system of disaster management is in place, but the advanced and automated system of weather forecasting and early warning along with community-based disaster preparedness can minimize loss of lives and properties to a great extent.
The Christmas festival for most of the people in the central islands of the Philippines became a black day of adversity after a powerful typhoon Phanfone (Urshula) made seven landfalls on different islands.
The typhoon acquired wind speed ranging from 120 to 130 kms per hour and gust of approx. 160 kms per hour that battered most of the affected islands killing at least 28 people with many more injured or missing. Many deaths are reported due to drowning, falling of trees on houses, electrocutions, etc.
The initial three landfalls took place in the islands of ‘eastern Visayas’ on Christmas eve and subsequently three more landfalls reported in islands of ‘Western Visayas’ on Christmas day. The seventh landfall occurred in the ‘oriental Mindoro’ on the same day. The badly affected provinces are Iloilo, Leyte, and Capiz whereas tourist destinations like Boracay, Coron, etc. were also badly hit by the typhoon. Significantly, Urshula followed a similar path as traveled earlier by the deadliest typhoon “Haiyan” that had killed over six thousand people in 2013.
In a terrible plane accident in Kazakhstan on 27th December, a ‘Bek Air’ plane carrying 98 passengers crashed shortly after taking off from Almaty to its destination ‘Nur Sultan’.
Over 15 passengers are reported to have died and most of the passengers are injured. The plane took off from Almaty in the morning amidst dense fog and shortly after taking off, hit a concrete fence and a two storey building located in the line of runoff.
The government of Kazakhstan has observed a national day of mourning on 28th December and also launched an investigation to determine the real cause of the disaster. The Plane was a ‘Fokker 100’ model low-cost aircraft.
The aviation ministry of Kazakhstan has ordered the suspension of all low-cost Fokker 100 aircraft till the investigation is completed.