Monday, December 14, 2015

Chennai floods are world's 8th most expensive natural disaster in 2015

Chennai After Heavy Rain

The recent Chennai floods are the eighth-most expensive natural disaster to have hit the world in 2015, says UK reinsurance broker Aon Benfield.

India suffered a $3 billion loss to its economy from severe rainfall and flooding in November and early December, the company said in its monthly report on global catastrophes.

A Wall Street Journal report stated that wildfires in Indonesia in January cost the Southeast Asian economy $14 billion, thus making it the most costly natural disaster of 2015.

Aon's recent report stated global catastrophe losses in October are expected to top 10 billion. Record 22 global tropical cyclones have now developed in the Northern Hemisphere in 2015.

As far as the recent rain and flood in Tamil Nadu, especially in Chennai, Aon Benfield's estimate is that 400 people would have died after rainfall lashed India's southern coast and parts of Sri Lanka. More than 100,000 structures were damaged as a result of inundation across the two nations.

General Insurance Corporation reported insurance claims of around $300 million (approximately Rs 2,010 crore), Aon Benfield added, which is the global reinsurance intermediary and capital advisor of Aon plc.

This flood is considered to be the most expensive floods of 2015.

"New economic developments in Asia are taking place in flood plains and marsh lands with scant attention to drainage, thus increasing run-off and flooding," Adityam Krovvidi, head of impact forecasting, Asia Pacific, at Aon Benfield, said in a statement, which was reported by Reuters.

"The 100-year rainfall event in Chennai exposed the inherent weakness of the one-dimensional nature of this economic pursuit."

In October the flood in Southeast US, Mid-Atlantic would have resulted in an economic loss of $2 billion while the three floods in China whave resulted in estimated economic loss of $4.7 billion. The three floods hit China in June, March and July of 2015.

Estimated loss in factories and business is around Rs 15,000 crore, as per Assocham.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Deadly floods in Mauritius : 11 killed

Time & location
Level of gravity (max of H or M - 6 levels) : 3
  • Level of human consequences (H - 6 levels): 3
  • Level of material consequences (M - 6 levels): 3
State/Province (see map):
 Mauritius wide
Precise location 
: -

Human toll
Number of dead : 11
Number of missing : 0
Number of injured : 82
Number of evacuees : 0

b_250_150_16777215_00___images_stories_events_2013_inondation_maurice_300313.jpg At least 11 people have died and another 82 have been wounded after sudden rains caused flooding in the Mauritian capital Port Louis on Saturday, officials have said.
At least eight of the victims were caught in underground areas as the flood waters rose rapidly. Another died of a heart attack.
The island's metereologists said 152mm (6in) of rain fell in less than an hour, 70mm less than the March average.
Prime Minister Navin Rangoolam declared 1 April a day of mourning. 
The floods caused chaos in the city, with a huge traffic jam paralysing its centre, L'Express de Maurice newspaper reported.
The bodies of six people were recovered from a pedestrian subway and another two from an underground car park.
Resident Ameeksha Dichand told the BBC she had been unable to go outside because it was raining so heavily, though people did venture out on Sunday to inspect the damage.
a lot of roads have been blocked and there is mud everywhere. Trees have fallen all over the place.
More rain was expected on Sunday, and people were advised to stay at home.

Tornado in western New Zealand

Time & location
Level of gravity (max of H or M - 6 levels) : 1
  • Level of human consequences (H - 6 levels): -
  • Level of material consequences (M - 6 levels): 1
 New Zealand
State/Province (see map):
Precise location :
: -

Human toll
Number of dead : 0
Number of missing : 0
Number of injured : 0
Number of evacuees : 0

 A tornado has ripped through Hokitika, lifting rooves off buildings and toppling road signs. Witnesses at the beach saw the huge gust of wind coming off the Tasman Sea at about 12.30pm today. The tornado burst through the town and lifted the roof off the Railway Hotel Motel in Weld Street, and witnesses saw debris flying around in the air and hitting neighbouring buildings.
Conditions were perfect in the south for this kind of weather event. "The mix of high pressures and rain moving across the south makes for perfect conditions for a tornado. Nobody was available for comment at the Railway Hotel Motel and it is not known if anyone was injured.

Landslide engulfs 83 persons in Tibet

Time & location
Level of gravity (max of H or M - 6 levels) : 4
  • Level of human consequences (H - 6 levels): 4
  • Level of material consequences (M - 6 levels): 1
State/Province (see map):
Precise location 
: -

Human toll
Number of dead : 83
Number of missing : 0
Number of injured : 0
Number of evacuees : 0

b_250_150_16777215_00___images_stories_events_2013_mvts_chine_290313.JPG A landslide has engulfed a gold mining area in Tibet, burying 83 workers believed to have been asleep, according to Chinese state media.
About 2m cubic metres of mud, rock and debris swept through the area on Saturday as the workers were resting, covering about 4km (1.5 miles), China Central Television said.
The official Xinhua news agency said the workers in Lhasa's Maizhokunggar county worked for a subsidiary of China National Gold, a state-owned enterprise and the country's largest gold producer.
The disaster is likely to inflame critics of Chinese rule in Tibet who say Beijing's interests are driven by the region's mineral wealth and strategic position and come at the expense of the delicate ecosystem and Tibetans' Buddhist culture and traditional way of life.
The reports said at least two of the buried workers were Tibetan, while most of the workers were believed to be ethnic Han Chinese, a reflection of how such large projects often create an influx of the majority ethnic group into the region.
More than 1,000 police, firefighters, soldiers and medics have been deployed to the site. They conducted searches armed with devices to detect signs of life and were accompanied by sniffer dogs, reports said. About 30 excavators were also digging at the scene last night as temperatures plunged below freezing.

Tanzania: Dar es Salaam building collapse 'kills 17'

The aftermath of the building collapse- video courtesy of Muhidin Michuzi
At least 17 people have been killed after a multi-storey building collapsed in the centre of the main Tanzanian city of Dar es Salaam on Friday morning, according to a local official.
Commissioner Saidi Meck Sadick said 18 people had survived.
He added that the search for other survivors was continuing.
Earlier reports said some 45 people, including construction workers, residents and children from a Koranic school, were missing.
The BBC's Hassan Mhelela says the high-rise building under construction is now a "huge pile of chaos".
Eyewitness Nishit Surelia told the BBC: "There was a huge noise and the building collapsed behind me.
"Everyone started running, thinking it was an earthquake. There was dust everywhere. We then realised what had happened."

Trapped victims are said to have been making phone calls to friends and relatives.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete visited the scene.
The collapsed building was near a mosque, as well as other residential and commercial properties in central Dar es Salaam.
It was supposed to have been at least 12 floors high when finished.
Police say they are questioning four people linked to the construction company, while work on a nearby site undertaken by the same company has been suspended.
Tanzania's growing economy has prompted a construction boom in Dar es Salaam in recent years, as in many African cities.
But correspondents say the speed of construction and lack of safety standards sometimes put at risk both the buildings and those living and working in them.

What Country Has Had the Most Natural Disasters?

We all know that natural disasters can completely devastate an area and leave them in utter shambles. China, the victim country with the most natural disasters, has had much more than their fair share.

China: Natural Disasters

Quite a few countries have been plagued with a number of natural disasters; however, China is the country that has had the most natural disasters. In fact, not only have they had the most natural disasters, but they take spots number one, two, three, seven, and eight on the list of the deadliest natural disasters.
At least part of the reason why China seems to be plagued with natural disasters is because it is a hot spot for monsoons to occur. Therefore, a great number of floods happen in this country.
The following list chronicles the various natural disasters which have occurred in China throughout the years:
  • 540 through 590 - Plague of Justinian. 40 million to 100 million died on multiple continents
  • 1290 - Chihli Inner Mongolia earthquake. 100,000 deaths
  • 1300s through 1720s - Black Death. 100 million died on multiple continents
  • 1556 - Shaanxi earthquake. 830,000 deaths
  • 1850s through 1950s - Third phrase of the bubonic plague. Unverifiable amount died worldwide
  • 1876 through 1879 - Northern Chinese famine. 13 million deaths
  • 1887 - Yellow River flood. 900,000 to two million deaths
  • 1907 - Chinese famine. 24 million deaths
  • 1911 - Yangtze River flood. 100,000 deaths
  • 1918 through 1920 - Spanish flu. 50 million to 100 million died worldwide
  • 1920 - Haiyuan earthquake. 234,117 deaths
  • 1922 - Swatow typhoon. 60,000 deaths
  • 1927 - Gulang earthquake. 40,000 deaths
  • 1928 through 1930 - Chinese drought. 3 million deaths
  • 1931 - Floods. 1 million to 4 million deaths
  • 1933 - Diexi earthquake. 9,000 deaths
  • 1935 - Yangtze River flood. 145,000 deaths
  • 1936 - Chinese famine. 5 million deaths
  • 1941 - Chinese drought.  3 million deaths
  • 1958 through 1958 - Asian flu. 4 million died worldwide
  • 1958 through 1961 - Great Chinese famine. Unverifiable number of deaths
  • 1966 - Xingtai earthquake. 8,064 deaths
  • 1970 - Tonghai earthquake. 15,621 deaths
  • 1975 - Banqiao Dam failure. 231,000 deaths
  • 1975 - Super Typhoon Nina. 210,000 deaths
  • 1976 - Tangshan earthquake. 242,419 deaths
  • 2008 - Sichuan earthquake. 68,712 deaths
  • 2008 - Winter storms. 133 deaths
The fact that China is prone to natural disasters, coupled with the fact that so many people live there, makes the country extremely vulnerable to large-scale tragedies.

Building resilience to disaster in one of the world’s “Most Disaster-Prone Countries”
IOM, in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) organizes and facilitates a four-day Camp Coordination and Camp Management workshop. The workshop, which ran from 24-27 January 2013, also tackled issues on human trafficking which is expected to increase for homeless and destitute victims of the disaster that hit the Philippines late last year. © IOM 2013 (Photo by Billy Jamisolamin)
Philippines – IOM is deepening its response to relief and reconstruction after natural disasters in the Philippines, by conducting intensive workshops on emergency preparedness.

By teaching emergency response skills and counter-trafficking techniques in the disaster-prone province of Mindanao, the IOM Philippines mission hopes to build more resilience in local and regional government.

These efforts come as UN agencies and humanitarian organizations have appealed for more funding to help families affected by Typhoon Bopha, which swept through the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines last December. The typhoon left almost a million people homeless and caused widespread death and destruction.  

The typhoon was the most deadly storm globally in 2012, and the most powerful to hit southern Mindanao in more than 100 years, a sign that global warming is affecting new latitudes of the country.

The Philippines, population 95 million, is officially the third most disaster-prone country in the world, after Vanuatu and Tonga. In practice, UN officials often consider it to be the most disaster prone country, given its large and vulnerable population and the frequency of natural disasters that affect it.

A four-day Camp Coordination and Camp Management workshop was organized and facilitated by IOM, from 24-27 January 2013 in collaboration with the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD). Among the issues covered by the workshop was human trafficking which is expected to increase for homeless and destitute victims of the disaster.
“Integrating a counter-trafficking component into camp management is important, because of the vulnerability of the displaced communities with no livelihood and no homes, and the limited options for alternative source of income,” said Ricardo Casco, IOM’s acting chief of Mission for The Philippines who participated in the workshop.

In attendance at the workshop were DSWD Officers from the most typhoon-prone regions of Mindanao, including Region 10 which was severely affected by Typhoon Sendong/Washi in 2011, and Regions 11 and CARAGA, areas recently hit by Typhoon Pablo/Bopha.

Dulce Almeda, DSWD Regional Officer said, “We need workshops like this, particularly on site-planning. That way responders will know what facilities should be there and how many, like latrines, bathing cubicles, water points, and cooking areas based on humanitarian standards.”

“If only there is pre-evacuation planning and pre-identification of evacuation sites, it would have been less problematic when managing displacement,” she said of the recent emergency.

The aim of the workshop in the regional capital Davao, was to reinforce preparedness and enhance the response. By sharing camp management knowledge and principles with the lead government responders to disasters, it is hoped that municipal, provincial and regional level actors will be better prepared for future disasters.

The workshop provided the venue to share knowledge and good practices between regions where typhoons are commonplace and new areas which never experienced natural disasters of such magnitude before.  Typhoons Bopha and Sendong struck in the space of 12 months in parts of the Philippines which almost never experienced such extreme weather, adding to the death toll, trauma and misery of the population.

The participants in the workshop took part in camp visits and were encouraged to critique the camp management work.  A workshop on site-planning took place using the site model presented inculcated in them the humanitarian standards in camps. This sparked great interest from the participants and was seen as a good model to be rolled out in their respective regions for pre-displacement planning.

IOM Philippines also participated in a Shelter Workshop focusing on Disaster Risk Reduction measures to “build back better” focusing especially on the standard of materials to use to make houses more resistant to typhoons.

A revised humanitarian Bopha response plan is seeking USD 76 million, a 17 per cent increase from the USD 65 million originally requested on 10 December at the onset of the disaster. As IOM and other organizations work with the Government to reach more people, the scale of the disaster has become more evident.

The violent storm affected more than 6.2 million people, claiming over a thousand lives and displacing at least 800,000 people. Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley provinces bore the brunt of the destruction that left three coastal towns flattened.  

The new plan should see the Government and aid organizations help close to a million people for the first six months of this year. Alongside emergency aid, agencies like IOM are supporting the Government in building stronger disaster preparedness and response plans through events like the four-day CCCM training workshop and keeping a roster of trained CCCM practitioners. So far, aid efforts have reached tens of thousands of people with food assistance, shelter, water and hygiene kits. Many families have also participated in cash-for-work programmes, which allow them to earn money while helping to rebuild their communities.
About 85.2 per cent of the Philippine economy is prone to natural disasters, according to an Asian Development Bank (ADB) study. Over half the country's land area is economically at risk from multiple hazards such as floods, typhoon, and earthquakes according to ADB’s Response to Natural Disasters and Disaster Risks report of last year.

Asia is most disaster prone region – UN report

MANILA, Philippines - Asia again topped the list as the most disaster-prone region in the world, both in terms of number of disasters and victims, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) said recently.
One of the most damaging disasters was typhoon “Pablo,” which left at least 1,900 dead or missing in Mindanao last December. It also destroyed more than 210,000 houses, vital infrastructure, and vast tracts of agricultural lands.
The UNISDR said thousands of people died in extreme disasters in 2012, and property worth more than $100 billion was lost for the third year in a row.
Based on UNISDR figures, there were 310 disaster events in 2012, which killed more than 9,300 people, displaced 106 million others, and damaged $138 billion worth of property mainly in the United States, Italy and China.
“A review of economic losses caused by major disaster events since 1980 shows that since the mid-90s there has been a rise in economic losses and this has turned into an upward trend,” UNISDR director Elizabeth Longworth said.
“Despite no mega-disaster such as a major urban earthquake, economic losses are conservatively estimated in the region at $138 billion,” Longworth added.
The Americas accounted for 63 percent of the economic losses, mainly due to hurricane “Sandy” and widespread drought, causing damage of $50 billion and $20 billion, respectively.
Europe was hit by two long cold waves at the start and end of the year which killed almost 1,000 people.
 Drought and floods also severely affected many regions in Africa, and were responsible for nearly 80 percent of victims killed or injured by disasters in 2012, the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) said.
However, since disasters mostly occur in poorer countries, the economic losses were low.
“Even so, the floods of Pakistan cost nearly 2 percent of its annual GDP, which is a lot to recover,” CRED director Debby Guha-Sapir said.
“Disasters are a major problem in all poor countries and pose threats to global security.

Americans believe in climate change risks but won't pay to fix them – survey

us coast climate change

Americans are fatalistic when it comes to climate change, recognising the dangers but unwilling to pay for sea walls or relocate coastal communities, new research released on Thursday found.
The survey, commissioned by two departments at Stanford University, the Woods Institute for the Environment and the Center for Ocean Solutions, was the first to investigate public attitudes towards planning for a future of sea-level rise and extreme storms.
It found a sharp disconnect between Americans' acknowledgement of climate risks – which was high – and their willingness to pay for solutions.
That divide could hurt efforts by New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg to mobilise large sums of public money to build sea walls, restore sand dunes, or move people out of harm's way after superstorm Sandy.
"I think it's a real challenge for them," said Jon Krosnick, the Stanford professor who oversaw the survey. "I think there is a fundamental disconnect."
Those surveyed were especially wary of setting up a direct confrontation with natural forces, such as building sea walls or trucking in sand to eroding beaches. They did not see the point of paying people to leave areas at risk from extreme storms and rising seas.
Cuomo last month proposed spending as much as $400bn to buy back homes wrecked by the storm and turn the land over to dunes and wetlands.
However, Krosnick suggested that idea would not garner much public support.
"The idea of paying people to retreat, they didn't like," he said.
The survey found high awareness of the risks of climate change – and broad acceptance of the need to plan for a hotter and more unpredictable climate. Some 82% of respondents believed in the existence of climate change. More than 70% believed climate change would lead to dangerous sea-level rise and more damaging storms. And a strong majority of those surveyed said it was important to act on climate change.
The national survey of 1,174 respondents was conducted between March 3-18.
But there was little support for protection policies now actively under consideration in the wake of superstorm Sandy. Only 30% of respondents wanted to build sea walls – along the lines of the ambitious engineering works proposed immediately after the storm.
Just 33% supported trucking in sand to replace beaches that have washed away in past storms. And only 37% supported relocating structures away from the coast – as Cuomo has proposed.There was more support for laws to restrict future development in coastal areas.
"It's support for preventing damage to people or business, but not by trying to hold mother nature back," said Krosnick. "It's saying: we are not going to win this battle, let's retreat'."
There was also strong resistance among those surveyed to paying for coastal protections – aside from those living in coastal areas themselves.
Some 80% believed the cost of coastal protections should be carried by those living in coastal communities.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Record Drought Hits New Zealand's North Island

New Zealand declared a drought across its entire North Island for the first time in at least 30 years on Friday, with low river levels in the capital Wellington also worrying officials.
Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy said: "It has become clear that nearly all farmers in every part of the North Island are facing very difficult dry conditions".
"Parts of the South Island are also very dry, in particular the Grey and Buller districts. We are keeping a close watch on all further regions," he said.

ANALYSIS: This Winter: Warmer and Wetter than Average

Guy added that while some rain was forecast this weekend, "we will need more than this to help prepare for the winter and set up for next spring".
On its website, the government said the drought had progressed rapidly and rainfall in March and April was critical as a lack of autumn rain would cause serious impacts on the next production season for farmers.
In an economic note out earlier this month, the ANZ banking group said its analysis suggested the current spate of dry weather was likely to significantly weigh on primary production and could wipe 0.5 percent off GDP by the end of the year.

ANALYSIS: Dead Pigs? Not a Big Deal in Shanghai River

Wellington City Council has called on residents to conserve water.
"Water levels in our local rivers -- the source of our water supply -- are extremely low and dropping," the council said in a statement.
"A significant reduction in demand for water will extend the number of days that back-up storage will last, so it's important to save water now."
From Saturday, there will be a ban on all outdoor water use including hoses, sprinklers and irrigation systems in Wellington to ensure there is enough water for households, businesses and public services if the dry continues.
Extra restrictions may be needed if our water reserves continue to drop.
The council, which can impose fines for breaching the ban, said it will cease the daily irrigation of sports fields and gardens and is turning off fountains and water features across the city as much as possible.