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Triplet of natural disasters

Posted by alec8c on April 15, 2010

India-Bangladesh storm

At least 100 people have died in a powerful storm that hit areas on the border between India and Bangladesh.

Many more are injured or trapped in rubble as about 50,000 houses were hit by winds of up to 160 km/h (100mph). The deadly winds ravaged tin, concrete and mud houses and brought down trees. “The storm has left a trail of destruction everywhere,” West Bengal’s civil defence minister Srikumar Mukherji told local television in the North Dinajpur district.

Medical and food supplies have been rushed to the area after the cyclone struck overnight on Tuesday.North-eastern areas of West Bengal and Bihar states and the Bangladeshi state of Rangpur were worst-hit, said officials.

It is the most violent storm in this area since Cyclone Aila hit eastern India and Bangladesh in May last year, killing more than 150 people.West Bengal’s Uttar Dinajpur district was struck badly, with nearly 40 dead.

Much of the district is without power because electricity poles collapsed after trees uprooted by the storm fell on them. Survivor Abhijit Karmokar told local television that many had been killed or injured by flying debris.


“Some of these tin roofs just sliced through people… it was total darkness… we stood no chance,” he said.

Indian authorities say emergency supplies have been rushed to the area and temporary shelters have been set up for those who had lost their homes.

Emergency teams have been pouring into western China’s Qinghai province, a day after a deadly earthquake devastated the mountainous region.

Thousands of homeless and injured people await relief. The epicentre of the earthquake that struck on 14 April is about 50km (31 miles) west of Jiegu, the main town of Yushu county, about 800km away from Xining.

Officials say 617 people died and 9,980 were injured when the tremor hit early on Wednesday – 313 remain missing. Rescuers tore at the rubble with their bare hands and shovels, as emergency convoys battled through sandstorms and sleet to disaster-hit Yushu county.


Chris Hogg, BBC News, Qinghai province
In one direction on the road to Yushu county, long convoys of heavy-lifting equipment, military vehicles, relief supplies, soldiers and police are heading to the worst-affected area.In the other, one or two families of refugees are heading away from the quake zone. What looks like all they could salvage from their homes is packed on the back of small tractors.It’s bitterly cold here – they try to shelter from the wind, huddling among their small possessions. Meanwhile, in the area behind them the rescue operation continues.It’s very hard to reach this rural area, 4,000m above sea level, and rescue teams have travelled considerable distances from neighbouring provinces.There are shortages of tents, as well as medical workers, equipment and supplies. The relief effort has been further hampered by a series of aftershocks.

“Freezing weather, high altitude and thin air have all made rescue efforts difficult,” Hou Shike, deputy head of China International Search and Rescue, told official news agency Xinhua.

Snaking rescue convoys rumbled in the early hours of Thursday along the 1,000-km (620-mile) highway separating Yushu from the Qinghai provincial capital, Xining.

As well as the remote location, which sits at an altitude of around 13,000ft (4,000m), more logistical problems were posed by aftershocks. The quake also knocked out phone and power lines and triggered landslides.

Survivors shivered through Wednesday night in the open as temperatures fell below freezing. In the township of Jiegu, 85% of buildings have been destroyed, officials say.

Several schools collapsed and at least 66 pupils and 10 teachers were among the dead, Xinhua reported. Emergency workers were seen removing dust-covered dead infants from rubble.

‘War zone’

One resident, Lungme, told Xinhua news agency that she and five of her relatives were buried when their home collapsed in Jiegu township, near the epicentre of the quake. “It was all so sudden. I had no time to react,” the agency quoted her as saying. She and four others were dug out but her mother died. “Eight people in one of my neighbour’s family were all buried. They were all dead when they were found,” she said.

Ren Yu, the manager of Jiegu’s Yushu hotel, said that the town “felt like a war zone”. “It’s a complete mess. At night, people were crying and shouting. Women were crying for their families,” the Associated Press news agency quoted him as saying.

“Some of the people have broken legs or arms, but all they can get now is an injection. They were crying in pain.”

Drolma said her brother described a devastating situation in Yushu. “On one of the three main streets he went down – there are just dead bodies everywhere,” she said.

She said that based on what relatives had told her, she believed the death toll would be higher than the figure of 600 currently being reported. Drolma said that people in Yushu were hoping that aid would arrive soon.

“People tried to escape to the mountains but in the mountains it’s really cold and they’ve got no tents, there’s no food – whatever they are wearing, that’s all they’ve got. “I just called my brother and he said he is walking down the street. It’s pitch black, there’s nothing, nowhere to go. He said to me: ‘Sister, how do I keep warm? Who’s going to give me anything? Everyone is just freezing here.'”

Flights have been disrupted across northern Europe by volcanic ash drifting south and east from Iceland.

The ash, which can damage aeroplane engines, was limiting air traffic in countries including the UK, Norway, Sweden and Finland, officials said.

It was produced by a volcanic eruption under a glacier in southern Iceland. As many as 800 people were evacuated on Wednesday from their homes in the area, where flooding was reported as the glacier melted.

Eyewitnesses and local officials said there were two flows of flood water coming off the glacier, and that a road along the flooded Markarfljot river had been cut in several places. By Thursday morning, the disruption to air traffic stretched from the UK to Scandinavia.

‘Large floods’

Oslo airport, which is Norway’s largest, was closed, while Finland’s airport agency Finavia said air traffic to northern Sweden and northern Finland was also affected.


The volcanic ash cloud reached about 55,000ft, Eurocontrol says

In the UK, airports in Scotland were closed while flights at several English airports had been suspended.

The last volcanic eruption at the Eyjafjallajoekull glacier was on 20 March – the first since 1821 – and it forced about 500 people in the sparsely populated area from their homes.

Iceland lies on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the highly volatile boundary between the Eurasian and North American continental plates. A group of Norweigians including the ambassador who were camping near the volcano were among those expecting to be evacuated late on Wednesday.

“There are large floods on both sides of the volcano, and the road in (to where they are) is blocked and the whole area is isolated due to the floods,” said Per Landroe, a spokesman for the Norweigian embassy. “There are fears that a large bridge will break,” he told AFP.


One Response to “Triplet of natural disasters”

  1. Lindy said

    Excellent – well done Alec

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