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22 September 2003 – China
Seven people have been confirmed dead and five are still missing after torrential rains in south- eastern China's Fujian province triggered flooding over the weekend.
Rains pelted the towns of Songkou and Changqing, leading to heavy torrents that destroyed at least 140 houses and nine bridges in mountainous Yongtai county. Xinhua news agency says relief crews are at the scene and local authorities have begun assessing damage and making efforts to restore power and services.
7 October 2003 – Haiti
Landslides caused by heavy rains swept down on poor areas of the capital, killing at least 12 people and leaving dozens of others homeless, the government announced. At least five people were injured and 14 were reported missing following the avalanches on Sunday night (5 October) in three areas of Port-au-Prince, Civil Defence Director Yolene Surena said.
The mudslides carried away several cinderblock houses, built without permit on the slopes of city ravines, Surena said. The government warned the residents months back that their houses were condemned and would be demolished, she said.
24 October 2003 – Thailand
The Thai Navy has dispatched a warship to rescue some 200 stranded tourists from the resort island of Koh Tao after ferry services were suspended due to heavy storms off the coast of Surat Thani. District Chief Thanapol Antimanont said that warship Sukhothai was assisting in the transfer of the tourists to the safer island of Samui. Public Health Minister Suradat Keyurapan had reportedly ordered the disbursement of a special 7-million-baht budget to fund the rescue operation while holidaying on Samui.
The navy also deployed two warships to search for 26 fishermen and freighter crew whose vessels went missing off Surat Thani. Assisted by marine police, the vessels scoured the vicinity where the boats were last reported, but the search operation was hampered by gale-force winds and high seas. Second Fleet Operations Director Capt. Warongkorn Osathanont said that aircraft sent to survey the area were forced to abort their missions due to poor visibility. The missing seamen comprised 18 crew members from the Indonesia- bound freighter Jong Sathaporn 18 who fell overboard and eight fishermen whose trawler capsized during the storms. An emergency rescue centre had been set-up at the navy's Sattahip base in Chon Buri, and the Chakri Naruebet aircraft carrier had been placed on stand-by with a full medical team and provisions on board, he said. The Meteorological Department forecast more heavy storms in the region due to an almost stationary depression about 170 km east of Chumphon. It advised small boats to stay ashore, warning of flash floods in Petchaburi, Prachuab Khiri Khan, Chumphon and Surat Thani.
25 October 2003 – The navy is continuing its rescue operations with two more warships dispatched to search for the remaining 24 fishermen who were reported missing after their boats capsized off the coast of Surat Thani and Satun on Wednesday (22 October). Eighteen crew from freighter Jong Sathaporn 18 and eight from trawler Chok Bunmacharoen were reported missing but two Indonesian crewmen were rescued yesterday while floating near a gas rig off Satun province. Navy chief Adm Chumphol Pachusanon said rescue operations were continuing, with an aircraft carrier and five other warships on stand-by in the Gulf of Thailand. The navy has also sent a Dornier rescue aircraft to patrol the area. Adm Chumphol said that he had ordered the deployment of two more warships in the rescue operations. The navy has taken 275 tourists off the resort island of Koh Tao off the coast of Surat Thani province, after ferry services were suspended due to heavy storms on Thursday. Two navy vessels picked up the tourists and the remaining 400 tourists would be picked up soon. Koh Phangan District chief Thanaphol Antimanon said the situation on Koh Phangan and Koh Tao had returned to normal, with clear skies and no rain. Ferry boats resumed their services yesterday, he added. In Prachuap Khiri Khan, heavy rain caused by the depression brought flash floods that inundated several low-lying areas. Several districts have been flooded and roads damaged. In Kui Buri district and Sam Roi Yot sub-district, floodwaters rose to more than 2 m due to continuous heavy rain since Thursday night. Several roads in Pran Buri district were cut off and floodwalls were damaged. The water level rose to more than 3 m in the district, forcing residents to seek refuge on their rooftops. In Hua Hin municipality, flash floods hit the area, with water levels rising more than 1 m in less than an hour. The Meteorological Department yesterday warned operators of small fishing boats against leaving shore.
29 October 2003 – Overflowing dams and reservoirs have raised floodwater to waist-high levels in some parts of western and southern Thailand, after weeks of heavy rains. With more rain forecast, the flooding in the provinces of Petchaburi, Ratchaburi, Kanchanaburi and Prachuab Khiri Khan may not subside for some time. Authorities had ordered the release of water from dams that were close to or had reached their capacity. In Petchaburi, the worst-hit province, police chief Chatchanon Rayhu said three people had died since 15 October, because of the flooding. Water levels had reached waist and even chest-height in some areas. Chatchanon said about 60,000 people had been evacuated from their homes. A spokesman for the aid agency Sawang San Phet Foundation said it had delivered about 3,000 boxes of food to flood victims by boat.
3 November 2003 – Indonesia
Flash floods swept through a popular tourist resort on Indonesia's Sumatra island today, killing 24 people, five of them were foreigners, leaving 72 others missing, a rescue official said. The floods, which were triggered by days of heavy rain, took place in Bohorok, close to the provincial capital of Medan in north Sumatra province. A police official, Lt Kosim, who goes by a single name, put the death toll at 23 and the missing toll at 26. But Robert Sirait, a search and rescue official near the scene, put the number of missing at 72, and said that the 24 confirmed dead included five foreign tourists. No other details were immediately available.
3 November 2003 – At least 37 people, including five foreign tourists, have been killed by torrential rains causing-flash flooding on Indonesia's Sumatra island, witnesses and officials said today. Residents put the death toll as high as 70 but the official count was 37. The rains, which began last night, caused flooding near the North Sumatra capital of Medan north-west of Jakarta, and at a national park and home to an Orang-utan rehabilitation centre popular with tourists. There was no immediate word on the nationalities of the foreigners killed. “We received information that 37 people have died,” Edi Sofya, North Sumatra provincial spokesman, said. “Of that total so far, 32 are Indonesian and five are foreigners,” he said. He said the flooding hit the tourist area of Bahorok early today. Indonesia's rainy season usually starts in November and lasts until April. Sofyan Tan, a manager of a guest house in the area, said up to 70 people had been killed. “The water is now about 10 metres deep,” Tan said. Jon Purba, another hotel manager, put the toll at 40. “I am on top of the valley now. There are 40 bodies here,” Purba said. The affected areas are part of the Gunung Leuser National Park and home to a rehabilitation centre for Orang-utans. A park official said the floods had not hit the primate conservation centre.
3 November 2003 – Flash floods swept through a popular tourist resort on Indonesia's Sumatra island, killing 66 people, five foreigners, and leaving dozens missing, officials said today, the floods, which were triggered by days of heavy rain, took place at about 2130 h, 2 November, in Bohorok, close to the provincial capital of Medan in north Sumatra province. A river that winds down from nearby mountains overflowed its banks and washed away dozens of makeshift guesthouses that host tourists who come to the area to see its famous orang-utan reserve. “We have found 66 bodies. The flood was caused by massive logging in the Leuser national park,” Langkat District Chief Syamsul Arifin said at the scene, referring to the large park nearby. The dead foreigners included a German, an Australian, two Chinese and a Singaporean. A survivor said the water surge lasted 10 min and carried thousands of logs from Leuser Mountain, which rammed into dozens of guesthouses near the river. Many of the bodies, including the foreigners, would be brought to Perngadi Hospital in Medan tomorrow morning. Officials said the number of missing remained in dozens, but exact figures were unavailable. As far as is known, only Bukit Lawang Cottage and Batu Mandi hotel remain complete.
4 November 2003 – Rescuers were today combing through a valley in one of Indonesia's biggest national parks looking for survivors of a flash flood that swept through a resort, killing at least 90 people including foreign tourists. Officials said the death toll would go much higher as the search through the wreckage of logs, boulders and collapsed guesthouses continued into its second day today. The bodies of five foreign tourists – four Europeans and a Singaporean – had been identified. “There are 90 confirmed dead, but the death toll is expected to go over 100, around 140 probably,” said Jusuf Kalla, chief social welfare minister. “There are still many missing people who have not been accounted for yet,” Kalla said before going into an emergency meeting in Jakarta. Rain, mud and collapsed roads and bridges in the Gunung Leuser national park on Sumatra island were hampering rescue work, officials at the scene said. The park boasts rare animals including rhinos and tigers and is also home to a popular rehabilitation centre for orang-utans.
The floods, which hit in the early hours of yesterday as most people slept, were triggered by heavy rains swelling the Bahorok river, which is lined by guesthouses, restaurants and homes. Search and rescue crews in rubber inflatable boats patrolled the river fishing out bodies, a witness said. A Western man staying at the orang-utan centre said some of the great apes had been swept away. The body of a 26-year-old German woman was identified on Tuesday, said North Sumatra provincial spokesman Edi Sofyan, at the scene in Bukit Lawang valley. Officials have identified the others as a 20-year-old German woman, a 40-year-old Austrian woman and a 67-year-old Singaporean man. There was some dispute over the identity of a fifth victim, a man described as German or Swiss. “We predict there are dozens of bodies buried under the logs in the area,” said Amran, a local government spokesman at the destroyed village. The chief social welfare minister said that rampant illegal logging was at least partly responsible for the disaster. The guesthouses in Bukit Lawang village mostly catered to foreign backpackers and Indonesian tourists. It was not clear as how many tourists were in the area at the time of the flood but the number of foreigners visiting Indonesia has dropped sharply since Muslim militants blew up nightclubs on Bali island last year, killing 202 people, most of them were young Western holidaymakers. “The evacuation of victims has been pretty slow because most of them lived on the other side of the river. The stream is extremely strong,” said an official from the search and rescue team. “The river banks are filled with logs and broken trees. We presume there are more bodies there.” Sofyan said as many as 100 people had been stranded on the opposite side of the river, and rescuers were bringing them and some bodies across suspended from cables. “They cannot get across the river, but we have been able to get a raft across with some food and supplies,” he said. Sofyan said the bodies of the five foreign tourists had been evacuated to a hospital in Medan, 1,425 km north-west of Jakarta.
20 November 2003 – Morocco
Five people, including a woman and two children, were killed and five more missing after heavy rains caused flooding in Morocco's north-eastern Nador region, local authorities reported today. Torrential storms on Monday (17 November) and Tuesday brought down 100 m of rain in 12 h, according to the Moroccan Map news agency. The flooding of river valleys, notably in the Beni Bufrah region, cut off many roads and hampered rescue operations. Helicopters ferried emergency and food aid to flooded areas, the authorities said.
21 November 2003 – The death toll in severe flooding around Morocco's northern cities of Nador and Al Hoceima this week rose to 13 today, officials said. The bodies of eight people swept away by three rivers were found in Nador and five others in Al Hoceima. Torrential storms on Monday and Tuesday brought down 100 mm of rain in 12 h, according to the Moroccan Map news agency. The flooding of river valleys, notably in the Beni Bufrah region, cut off many roads and hampered rescue operations. Helicopters ferried emergency and food aid to flooded areas. Artificial lakes at the Mohammed V and Machraa Hammadi dams reached maximum capacity of 331 million and 180 million m3, respectively.
20 December 2003 – Bay of Bengal
The number of fishermen feared drowned in the Bay of Bengal off the southern coast of Bangladesh rose to 105 today as six more trawlers with 31 fishermen on board remained untraced after a tropical storm struck the coastline, port officials said. Earlier, 74 fishermen on board six trawlers were reported missing in high seas as their boats were tossed off course by gale-force winds.
All the fishermen feared drowned were on 12 trawlers which had failed to reach the fishing port of Barguna, about 30 km south of Dhaka, after walls of water whipped up by the storm engulfed them, a spokesperson for the local trawler owners' association said.
About 45 fishermen were rescued from the bay as Coast Guards scoured the waves for survivors, the spokesman said.
21 December 2003 – Patharghata trawler owners' association has said that 12 fishermen were rescued from the high sea, 30 h after their trawler Tushkhali capsized in the storm in Bay of Bengal on Thursday (18 December). Furthermore, three trawlers earlier reported missing returned to Patharghata in Borguna district yesterday with all the 39 fishermen on board. Two other trawlers with 26 fishermen were still missing, said Golam Mustafa Chowdhury, president of the association. He said a rescue team was sent on Friday that found 12 fishermen floating near “Andha Bouy” in the afternoon. They are the crew of Tusharkhali that capsized at about noon on Thursday. They were all brought to Patharghata on Friday evening. Three other trawlers Sonakanchan, Anand and Katadia – earlier reported missing – returned yesterday evening with all their 39 crew. The fishermen said they had taken shelter in a safer place during the heavy storm. However, fishing vessels Mayer Mukh and Nali were still missing with 26 fishermen, said Mustafa
22 December 2003 – Philippines
Over 70 people were feared dead after a ferry disappeared in rough seas in the Philippines, where rescuers have virtually given up hope of finding survivors from landslides that have claimed some 200 lives. The 63-ton Piary disappeared in the Sulu Sea off the southern coast of Palawan island yesterday after large waves smashed a hole in the vessel's hull, the coastguard said. Its last distress call informed the shore that the vessel was about to sink and that its 68 passengers as well as the crew had donned lifejackets, said the coastguard district commander Captain Godofredo Mandal. A coastguard spokesman said that vessels of that size would normally have at least ten crew. Anxious relatives swamped the coastguard station in nearby Brooke's Point. The ferry had come from the Cagayan de Sulu island group east of Palawan. Naval reconnaissance aircraft failed to locate the vessel or any survivors, while navy and coastguard vessels battled huge waves stirred up by seasonal north-easterly winds that have brought torrential rain across the southern half of the country. Coastguard chief Rear Admiral Arthur Gosingan ordered small inter-island vessels to remain at port until the monsoon winds eased. The alert followed a gruelling weekend, after heavy rain triggered mudslides which are feared to have killed more than 200 people across the country.
Local sources say hopes of finding any more people alive in the disaster are fading fast. Philippines President Gloria Arroyo has asked the US to help in rescue efforts following the landslides, which first hit on Friday (19 December) and which have been blamed, in part, on illegal logging. The Philippines civil defence authorities said 214 people were dead or missing. Bad weather has hampered rescue operations, and the focus is switching to the recovery of corpses. Defence Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that residents in San Francisco on the island of Panaon had been given permission to cover the rubble created by a massive landslide there, converting it into a mass grave. Around 100,000 people have been displaced by the landslides, and the authorities are struggling to feed and shelter them amid the persistent rain. Rosette Lerias, the governor of southern Leyte province, the worst affected region said cutting down trees from the slopes above settlements had loosened the soil.
Environment Secretary Elisea Gozun said forests had been replaced by coconut plantations in the 1920s and 1930s, and that these do not hold the soil as well as the deep-rooted trees. The municipalities of San Francisco, Liloan and Maasin in southern Leyte have been particularly badly hit, while other casualties were reported in the Agusan and Surigao areas of neighbouring Mindanao island. An official there quoted survivors as saying they heard a great noise from the mountains, and that shortly afterwards a current of mud swept down on top of them. The weather lifted briefly today, allowing military vessels to deliver food, medicines, and equipment to Tacloban on Leyte island. From there the supplies were due to be taken by sea to Panaon, home to about 50,000 impoverished farmers.
23 December 2003 – Twenty people have been rescued from a ferry which sank in the Philippines – but 55 others are still missing. Officials said the survivors were found by a cargo ship in rough waters off the western island of Palawan. The 63- ton ferry Piary sank about 100 km (60 miles) away from its destination – Brookes Point on Palawan island. A Panamanian-registered cargo ship picked up 20 survivors from waters between the Philippine island of Balabac and the Malaysian island of Bangui. The ferry, which vanished after rough seas smashed a hole in its side, was reported to be carrying 68 passengers and seven crew. There was no word on the more than 50 people still missing.