Weather

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Publication date: 1 February 2005

Citation

(2005), "Weather", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 14 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/dpm.2005.07314aac.004

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Weather

21 March 2004Bay of Bengal

Thirty-six Bangladeshi fishermen were missing and feared dead after they hit rough weather, reports said today. At least 20 fishermen went missing in the Bay of Bengal yesterday after their four vessels capsized near the southern beach town of Cox’s Bazar, the Bengali-language Sangbad newspaper reported. A search operation was underway but the fishermen were yet to be found, it said. The newspaper said another 16 fishermen disappeared in the Meghna river near the coastal Patuakhali district when their boat got caught in a storm, which is common at this time of year in Bangladesh.

14 June 2004. Bangladeshi rescuers, battling rough seas, are searching for around 140 fishermen missing after a storm sank 20 boats in the Bay of Bengal. Police say ten bodies have been found. Two people have been rescued alive but in critical condition while drifting for nearly 24 hours of the storm. “The sinking of the boats was reported late on Saturday (June 12),” Police Superintendent Ataul Kibria said. A total of 15 fishermen had been rescued on Saturday but a fishing association says 144 of their colleagues are missing.

14 June 2004. Three fishermen drowned and about 200 others were missing after a powerful storm sank at least 18 trawlers off Bangladesh’s southern coast, officials and survivors said today. Hundreds of people thronged the beach in search of relatives after the storm lashed the Bay of Bengal off Cox’s Bazar and neighbouring Tekhnaf coast yesterday. The storm packed 30-mph winds and generated waves as high as 40 feet. Villagers found three bodies washed ashore on Maheshkhali island in the Bay of Bengal late yesterday, said Ataul Kibria, a senior police official in Cox’s Bazar. Nurul Amin, an owner of one of the lost trawlers, said only four of the 11 men on his vessel had made it back home by today. The strong winds and rough seas made searching for the lost fishermen too dangerous. “The sea is so choppy and rough that we can’t go out there,” Kibria said. A rescue official said he was hopeful that many of the missing were able to swim to small islands that dot the coast, or were rescued by other vessels.

15 June 2004. Seven more bodies washed up the Bangladesh coastline, raising the death toll from a powerful weekend (June 12-13) storm to at least 13, police said today. About 140 fishermen were missing. The storm hit on Saturday, with waves reaching 40 feet and wind gusts up to 30 mph. At least 20 trawlers capsized carrying an estimated 200 fishermen. The police official said about 50 fishermen were picked up or managed to swim to safety. “About 140 people were still missing, but we believe that many of them could be taking shelter in nearby islands, or were rescued by villagers,” the official said.

23 March 2004Madagascar

Nearly 200 people were killed when cyclone “Gafilo” lashed northern Madagascar two weeks ago, rescue services on the Indian Ocean island said today, substantially raising the toll from an earlier tally which put the number of dead at 130. According to today’s toll, 198 people died, 166 were still missing and 216,000 were made homeless by the powerful storm. The new toll includes for the first time the bodies of 25 people recovered from two vessels that sank in the storm. A total of 100 of those listed as still missing were from the two vessels, a ferry from the Comoros Islands with 120 people on board and a fishing vessel with 15 crew members. Three people survived the sinking of ferry Sam-son, with one of them saying she saw the vessel go down.

6 April 2004Mexico

A flash flood killed at least 31 people as it swept through a northern Mexican city. Enrique Martinez, governor of Coahuila state, said two of those killed in Piedras Negras were children. He called the flooding some of the worst in the history of the US/Mexico border region, saying “the magnitude of destruction is enormous”. Throughout the day, authorities said as many as 75 people had yet to be accounted for, but the governor said many of those originally reported missing had been located. Martinez said authorities were still hunting for more than a dozen people, but that he could not confirm the exact number of missing. Floodwaters had receded and rain eventually stopped, allowing President Vicente Fox to visit this border city of 200,000 150 miles south west of San Antonio, Texas. Five neighbourhoods hit hardest by flood waters were in the dark today, without electricity, gas service and potable water. But some of the people whose homes were still standing could be allowed to return to their homes later, despite forecasts of possible additional showers, the governor said. The floods left behind houses without roofs, toppled walls and fences, and fallen power poles. Battered and overturned cars were scattered throughout the streets, yards and patios of riverside neighbourhoods, and the city remained without power, water and electricity. Heavy rains began on Sunday, forcing water levels to rise by 25 feet in the Escondido, which flows into the Rio Grande. The downpours intensified around midnight, causing the river to overflow and in a matter of 15 minutes dozens of houses in Villa de Fuente, a working-class neighbourhood of tin-roof shacks. Fox declared a state of emergency in the area, releasing government funds to help the city clean up and deploring soldiers to the area. The US Border Patrol sent two helicopters to help rescue officials locate survivors stranded on rooftops and clinging to tree branches. Mexican government-owned helicopters arrived later from the Coahuila state capital of Saltillo.

6 April 2004. Skies cleared and the clean-up of the destruction caused by flooding that killed 34 people in Piedras Negras got underway today. Bulldozers rumbled through the streets and soldiers and city employees tossed debris into garbage trucks, doing their best to pick through the rubble of toppled cars, demolished buildings and smashed furniture. Torrential rain beginning Sunday night (April 4) caused the Escondido River to overflow, triggering flash flooding that wiped out at least 100 homes and left thousands living in makeshift shelters. Electricity had been restored to a portion of Villa de Fuente, the working class neighbourhood hit hardest by the floods, said Marcela Aguirre, a spokeswoman for Piedras Negras, a town of 200,000 some 150 miles south-west of San Antonio, Texas. The federal government promised an initial allocation of more than $3 million to rebuild damaged homes and replace lost belongings, Social Development Department Josefina Vazquez announced today, after touring the area.

9 April 2004Fiji

At least three people were dead and nine others were missing after a severe tropical storm swept over Fiji, the Fiji Television network reported today. The confirmed dead were villagers who were swept away by floodwaters in the town of Rakiraki and in the Tailevu district, north of the capital Suva, Fiji Television quoted authorities as saying. A boat carrying five divers in the Yasawa Group, west of the main Viti Levu island, was missing, as were two fishermen and two villagers. Much of Viti Levu was damaged after a severe rainstorm struck Fiji yesterday, causing rivers to flood. The rain stopped today but the Fiji National Weather Forecasting Office warned another storm was developing to the west of the country. Disaster Management Committee head Eroni Delai said extensive flooding had destroyed a large number of houses. The Fiji Red Cross said it was sending emergency supplies to Rakiraki, whose 5,000 people have been the worst hit by the storm.

11 April 2004. Seven people have died and hundreds have lost their homes in Fiji after severe storms, officials say. Torrential rains lashed Viti Levu, the main island in the Fijian archipelago in the South Pacific for three days. Nine people are still missing. In one of the worst incidents, five people died when their bus was swept away by a landslide. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase is touring the worst-hit areas and French airplanes are helping relief efforts. France was the first foreign state to offer assistance to Fiji, sending naval aircraft from the nearby islands of New Caledonia taking part in efforts to locate several fishermen lost at sea. Fijian officials said it was too early to estimate the cost of the damage caused by the storm.

15 April 2004. A total of 11 people are missing in flash floods in Fiji, leaving families stranded on rooftops, highways cut and Suva isolated, officials say. Eight people have died in a week of torrential rain on Fiji’s main island Viti Levu, causing widespread flooding, the nation’s disaster and emergency service said. The rains were expected to continue. “Schools, business, work, traffic and everything else has come to a stand still,” a Suva resident said. “Houses are currently under water. Residents are waiting on their roof tops for help.” About 400 people have been evacuated from their homes. The total number of people missing since the flooding began has risen to 11 after two women were washed away in a swollen river, emergency officials said. Flash flooding cut highways to Suva today, with some low-lying areas outside the capital under six metres of water, said the Suva resident. Lario Toka from the town of Navua, west of Suva, said floodwater currents were very strong, making it dangerous to rescue people from roof tops. The majority of Viti Levu’s population lives in villages and small towns. Access to some of the flooded villages is possible only by horseback or punts and landslides have cut the single highway that wraps around the island’s coast in several places. Power supplies in the eastern parts of Viti Levu have been cut since the heavy rain began.

16 April 2004. Fiji is still being lashed by rain storms, with flooding across a wide area and more heavy rain to come. Authorities say nine people have died and 11 are still missing, presumed drowned, after a storm last week which caused millions of dollars in damage on the main island of Viti Levu. Forecasters say the intense rains are expected to continue over the weekend.

17 April 2004. Remote villages in Fiji remained cut off by severe flooding today after more than a week of torrential rain, as the country called for assistance in flying urgent supplies to affected areas. Heavy downpours across the country this past week triggered floods that inundated thousands of homes, wiped out crops, cut electricity and submerged roads linking many communities. Floodwaters forced at least 2000 people to flee their homes yesterday and take shelter in more than 60 evacuation centres. At least 1000 people remained at the centres today. As the second bout of torrential rain to hit the country in a week eased, a spokesman for the National Disaster Management Office said floodwaters were receding and river levels falling on the two main islands of Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. While ten people died and 11 remain missing from the flooding a week earlier, no casualties have been reported from the latest heavy rains. Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase today asked the New Zealand Air Force for helicopters to ferry food and other supplies to villages in the nation’s rugged northern highlands. A New Zealand foreign ministry spokesman later said it had agreed to the request. Qarase said supplies were also urgently needed in the east of the main island of Viti Levu, where hundreds of homes were inundated, leaving villagers without food and shelter. Qarase said the government would draw from a $US1.6 million emergency fund to meet the immediate food needs of more than 1500 people. The Fiji Meteorological Service said light showers were expected to clear to sunny weather tomorrow, allowing workers to start clearing mudslides from highways and roads blocked for several days.

14 April 2004Djibouti

A total of 46 people drowned amid torrential rains in the capital of Djibouti on Monday night (April 12), Interior Minister Abdoulkader Doualeh said today, updating a previous death toll of 30. The bodies of all the victims were recovered in the city of Djibouti. “Seven bodies washed away and buried in mud were found Wednesday morning, while 39 had been found by Tuesday evening,” the minister said. Monday night’s downpour was the heaviest in ten years in the country. The storm cut electricity supplies and washed away parts of a railway line to neighbouring Ethiopia. French and US forces based in Djibouti used helicopters to rescue people stranded on rooftops.

15 April 2004Bangladesh

A tornado tore through several villages in northern Bangladesh overnight, levelling houses and sending villagers literally flying, officials said today, giving a death toll of 30 with more than 600 hurt. Police originally said the winds which ripped up trees and flattened homes in the northern districts of Mymensingh and Netrokona late yesterday were a seasonal storm, but weather officials today said it was a tornado. A police officer in Netrokona district, 128 kilometres north of the capital Dhaka, said by telephone that at least 12 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured. Some of the injured had suffered broken bones after being thrown through the air by the force of the storm.

15 April 2004. Tornadoes swept through northern Bangladesh, killing at least 38 people, injuring hundreds and blowing away thousands of flimsy huts, officials said today. The twisters hit nearly two dozen farming villages in the neighbouring districts of Netrokona and Mymensingh on Wednesday night. Thousands were left homeless and spent the night in open fields, witnesses said. At least 26 people, including children, were killed and nearly 700 injured in Netrokona, 80 miles north of the capital, Dhaka, according to the local civil surgeon’s office and rescue workers. The United News of Bangladesh news agency, citing unnamed officials and witnesses, reported that 36 people died in Netrokona, raising the total to 48, but that could not immediately be confirmed.

16 April 2004. Bangladeshi authorities sent in more food and emergency supplies to the country’s north today as the death toll from a violent storm rose to 66 after rescuers recovered bodies from ponds, rice fields and ruined homes. The toll was expected to rise further as many of about 2,000 people injured in Wednesday (April 14) night’s storm were still in critical condition, officials and witnesses said today. Hospitals were crammed with hundreds of people seeking treatment for injuries caused by flying debris. Many were hit by corrugated tin ripped off the roofs; others broke their legs or hands or were found half buried in swampy rice fields, witnesses said. They said tens of thousands of people were made homeless when the tornado-speed winds tore through at least 20 villages in Mymensingh and Netrokona districts. Paddy fields were damaged both by winds and hailstones accompanying rain, local officials said. But they were unable to give any loss estimate immediately. Officials supervising rescue and relief efforts said the scale of destruction suggested the wind speed could have been more than 250 kph and the Dhaka meteorology office said the storm was probably a tornado.

19 April 2004. At least seven people were killed and 150 injured in violent storms that struck three Bangladeshi districts overnight, media reported today. The storms uprooted trees and damaged homes in north and west Bangladesh, the NTV television channel reported. The seven who died were hit by flying debris or crushed by buildings that had collapsed, the report said. The seasonal storms followed last week’s tornado that left at least 65 dead and more than 1,000 others injured. Some of the 150 people injured in the storms were taken to hospital, it said.

23 April 2004. Floods in north-eastern Bangladesh have driven about 100,000 people from their homes, disrupted communications and damaged houses and wide swathes of crops over the past week, officials said today. There have been no reports yet of deaths in the floods, which followed storms that killed nearly 90 people and injured more than 2,000 across the country. “About 100,000 people have left their homes seeking shelter elsewhere, including government buildings and schools,” a disaster official said. “Another half a million people were stranded in their partially flooded homes,” said disaster official Mohammad Habib. The floods, triggered by heavy rain, have forced authorities to shut schools for use as temporary shelters. About 15 million people in seven districts have been hit as the rain-fed Surma and Kushiara rivers – flowing from India’s north-eastern state of Assam breached embankments and flooded villages. About 500,000 acres of rice crops almost ready for harvest have been damaged in the floods, agriculture officials in the affected districts said, but were unable to give any estimates of losses immediately. A flood forecasting official said the Surma was still flowing above its danger level and the situation might deteriorate if rain continued. Weathermen forecast more rains across Bangladesh over the next one or two weeks.

12 April 2004Indonesia

At least 12 people were killed and three were missing after a landslide triggered by heavy rains buried homes in a village in Indonesia’s West Java province, police said today. The landslide hit Kidang Pananjung village near Bandung city late yesterday. District police chief Eko Sutejo said 12 bodies have been found so far and three others have been reported missing. “We have halted the search because the sky is now heavily clouded and we fear more landslides could happen,” he told local radio, adding that the search will resume when the weather improves. Surejo said there are no roads to the hill village and heavy machinery could not be brought in for the search. The area also has no telephone links. Police, troops and residents are helping in the search.

24 April 2004. A rain-triggered landslide smashed into a bus on Indonesia’s Sumatra island, killing at least 37 passengers and leaving six others buried under tons of mud, officials said today. Scores of rescue workers were digging with shovels and hoes to try and unearth survivors from the bus, which was almost entirely covered by the landslide, said police Sgt. Satria Dinata. The bus was hit late yesterday as it travelled from Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, from the town of Pasaman during a heavy rainstorm, Dinata said. Rescuers had recovered 37 bodies from the scene, said Sgt Ronnie Hamdani. Six other people were still buried, he said, adding 14 were injured. Medan is located about 900 miles northwest of the capital, Jakarta.

2 May 2004Iran

Floods have torn through western Iran killing ten people and devastating farmland, state television reported today. Television showed muddy torrents surging through farmland and cars struggling through streets awash with floodwater. It said the floods that killed eight in Kermanshah province and two in Ilam province were caused by rivers breaking their banks after torrential rain. Some areas were hit by hailstorms that smashed windows and injured some people. Television showed a villager sifting through hailstones almost as big as table-tennis balls.

6 May 2004Kenya

The countrywide floods death toll shot to 23 people yesterday after six new cases were reported in Western Kenya and Laikipia District. Police said they were investigating the discovery of the two male bodies retrieved from River Tonde in Muhoroni Division late Tuesday afternoon. Koru acting Officer Commanding Police Division (OCPD) Francis Lemangi said the victims drowned in Kipkelion of the Rift Valley before their bodies swept downstream to Nyanza. Police identified them as Daniel Musee Sambu and Philip Kisara Musirila. Lemangi said a 70-year-old lady, Isabella Awino, became another victim of the floods when she drowned in Miwani Division on Tuesday. Kericho District Medical Superintendent, Dr Betty Langat, said the bodies had been removed to the local mortuary for autopsies. Devastating floods in parts of the country have left a trail of destruction running into millions of shillings apart from claiming many human lives, domestic animals and crops. The torrential rains and floods have also destroyed buildings as well transport and communication infrastructure.

11 May 2004. At least 50 people have drowned and up to 38,000 others affected by flooding, including 10,000 forced to flee their homes, since heavy rains started pounding Kenya early in April, police and aid officials said today. “Since heavy rains started in early April, at least 50 people have been drowned or died in incidents related to floods across the country,” police spokesman Jasper Ombati said. “The latest incident happened in Lugari district in western Kenya where two people drowned this week,” Ombati said. Kenya’s Red Cross Society (KRCS), which has been coordinating relief, said that the floods had affected up to 38,000 people. “We can say that more than 10,000 people have been physically displaced from their homes while another 28,000 have been affected by the floods, mostly in Nyando, Rachuonyo and Migori districts in western Kenya”, KRCS head of disaster response, Farid Abdulkadir, said.

16 June 2004. The Kenyan government has said it is responding to food shortages in areas suffering from drought. More than one million people are threatened with hunger in Eastern and Coastal Provinces. Food supplies including cooking oil, sorghum and rice have been sent to the affected districts to ensure reserve stock piles are sufficient. Stephen Tarus, assistant minister in charge of food security, said delays were due to “logistical reasons”. Drought is not uncommon in Kenya and the government has been criticised for its slow response to the situation. Desperate residents in the coastal district of Kwale are reported to be living off wild tubers, because of acute food shortages. Responding to the criticism, Mr Tarus insisted that the Kenyan government had a sound food policy. He said Kenya was an agricultural-based economy and the government had “elaborate plans” for the provision of Kenya’s food. The food shortages have been exacerbated by contaminated maize stocks in parts of the Eastern province. According to Health Minister, Charity Ngilu, 80 percent of locally available maize stocks were affected. Over 80 people have died from eating the poisonous maize. Mr Tarus explained that the contamination occurs when the maize is stored in conditions not suitable for food, but this had now been dealt with.

20 May 2004Philippines

Typhoon “Nida” triggered landslides, destroyed houses and capsized a ferry, killing at least 19 people and leaving hundreds homeless in the Philippines, officials said yesterday as the storm blew toward Japan. Typhoon “Nida,” packing winds of 150kph and gusts of 185kph, headed away from the northern Philippines after ravaging several eastern provinces. At least eight people were killed and several others were reported missing after the wooden-hulled ferry St Martin overturned late Tuesday (May 18) when its bamboo outrigger broke in choppy waters off the central Camotes islands, Coast Guard chief, Vice Admiral Arturo Gosingan, said. It was carrying 168 passengers and crew. Nearby fishing boats rescued some passengers and Coast Guard divers scoured the sea for others. Authorities were trying to determine how many people were missing, Gosingan said. A total of 11 others were killed elsewhere, including a man hit by lightning on central Antique island and a 65-year-old woman pinned by a fallen coconut tree. At least ten people, mostly fishermen, were reported missing, officials said. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo placed eight eastern provinces under a “state of calamity,” enabling local officials to draw money for relief efforts from emergency funds. In Catanduanes Province, hundreds of houses were destroyed by landslides in three villages in mountainous Gigmoto town, leaving about 700 families homeless, the government’s disaster response agency said. Gigmoto Mayor Amando Guerrero, who was in Manila when the typhoon struck, headed home yesterday with other officials and a truckload of food and clothes. He said some of the homeless had moved to a school, a church and the town hall. “Nida” also stranded more than 15,000 people after authorities halted sea travel to prevent accidents. As the weather improved some ferries were allowed to sail, officials said. Nearly 3,000 people were evacuated in areas where the typhoon passed, including northern Nueva Ecija Province, where hurricane force winds destroyed houses in at least seven villages, officials said.

21 May 2004. On Wednesday (May 19), rescuers said 31 people were either dead or missing after the typhoon Nida hit the Philippines. At least 20 bodies have been recovered, including nine from a ferry that capsized Tuesday off the town of Camotes Island located between Cebu and Leyte, the civil defence office said. Authorities said they received reports yesterday that seven people were killed in the Bicol region and four in Central Luzon.

24 May 2004Dominican Republic/Haiti

At least 43 people have died in the Dominican Republic amid heavy flooding due to torrential rains, officials say. Some 450 homes were flooded across the nation, National Emergency Commission (NEC) chief Radhames Lora Salcedo was quoted as saying by AP news agency. North-western areas of the Caribbean country have been most badly hit by the rains, which cut off some roads and led to power cuts in at least 14 towns. The rain eased early today, but forecasters said more was expected. At least 40 people died yesterday when a river flooded the western town of Jimani near the Haitian border, NEC spokesman Jose Luis German said. The other deaths happened overnight in the northern town of San Francisco de Marocis, officials said. Thousands who fled the bursting rivers were staying with friends and relatives or at shelters set up in churches.

25 May 2004. About 100 people died when floods unleashed by torrential rain swept through a small farming town in the Dominican Republic, officials said. National emergency commission director Radhames Lora Salcedo said at least 150 people are still missing. Rains drenched the town of Jimani, forcing the Solie River to burst its banks.

26 May 2004. More than 500 people have been killed and hundreds are missing in the neighbouring Caribbean nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, after heavy rains caused flooding and mud slides. Officials say at least 358 people were killed in Haiti, while another 144 people died in the Dominican Republic. Rescue teams are searching for survivors, but they are mostly finding bodies in the mud and there is little alternative but to place them in mass graves. Most of the victims were swept away in floodwaters or died after mudslides destroyed houses. Dominican authorities say more than 13,000 people had been left homeless after swollen rivers turned into torrents. The official hurricane season does not begin until next week.

27 May 2004. There has been a dramatic increase in the death toll from recent devastating floods and landslides in the Caribbean, with the discovery of more than 1,000 bodies. The combined death toll in Haiti and neighbouring Dominican Republic now stands at about 1,950. More than 1,000 bodies were discovered in a town in south-eastern Haiti where communications are poor, bringing the toll in Haiti to over 1,600. About 300 have killed in the Dominican Republic and hundreds of other people are still missing in both countries. As the clean-up begins, the destruction is so great that authorities are being forced to quickly bury the victims. Unclaimed bodies are being put in mass graves, or buried where they are found. There have been complaints that the burials are disrespectful, but the head of the Dominican Republic Emergency Commission has defended the policy, saying he is try to stop an outbreak of disease.

4 June 2004. The toll of dead and missing from floods that ravaged parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic was set at more than 3,300 today as aid workers reached the most remote areas. In Haiti, the official death toll was at 1,191 and the number of missing at 1,484. The figures on the Dominican side of the border were 395 dead and 274 missing. That brought the overall toll to at least 3,344 from flooding caused by days of rains that unleashed torrents of water and mudslides on the border area of Hispaniola island nearly two weeks ago. The new official figures totalling 1,586 confirmed dead in both countries is lower than the 1,700 reported earlier, a figure based on accounts by the government, witnesses and journalists. “The death toll is higher than expected, and surely it will continue to rise,” said Marko Kokic, a representative of the International Federation of Red Cross Services. Aid workers said hundreds of victims washed away in floodwaters or buried in mudslides will probably never be found. Red Cross workers found 17 bodies yesterday as they took a boat through the southern Haitian town of Mapou, still submerged following the May 24 floods. Haiti’s Civil Protection Agency estimated 31,000 Haitians were affected by one of the worst natural disasters to strike the Caribbean.

21 May 2004Thailand

Floods caused by a violent storm yesterday morning, claimed the lives of six people and seven others were still missing in north-western Thailand, the local press reported today. A flash-flood hit the border town Mae Ramat in Tat province, which lies some 426 kilometres north-west to Bangkok and neighbours MyanMarch to the west. The flood which started at 0700 hrs and hit more than 1,000 houses and swept ten wooden homes away. Many residents were trapped in their homes and electricity was cut off after many power poles went down. The flood also triggered landslides that blocked traffic on two highways. The authorities have ordered two-day close for schools and are still looking for the seven people missing in the disaster.

28 May 2004Myanmar and Bay of Bengal

A cyclone last week killed at least 140 people in Myanmar and left 18,000 homeless, the United Nations said today in the first report on a disaster. The storm, which caused tidal surges and flooding in four towns in south-western Rakhine State near the border with Bangladesh, was the worst to hit the area since 1968, according to a UN statement issued in Geneva. “More than 140 people are reported dead or missing due to the cyclone,” the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said, adding that most casualties were in the town of Myebon. The storm damaged or destroyed schools, telephone and electricity lines and killed livestock. Food and clean water shortages have been reported throughout affected areas, it said. Authorities in Myanmar have asked U.N. officials in the capital Yangon to supply 200 tons of food, material for temporary shelters, medicines and clothing, according to a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The storm, which formed in the Bay of Bengal, killed at least one man when it hit a Bangladeshi coral island in the bay. UNICEF said in a statement issued by its Geneva headquarters that the May 19 storm, with winds of up to 105 miles per hour, was the worst to hit the area since 1968. It added that it “can not currently confirm how many people have been affected by this disaster,” which hit Myanmar’s Rakhine State, several hundred miles northwest of the capital, Yangon. Hardest hit were the coastal townships of Pauktaw, Myebon, Sittway and Kyaukpyu, it said. Myanmar’s state-controlled media has not reported on the disaster. The military government often downplays bad news. Tun Lwin, director of the state meteorological department, confirmed details of the storm, but declined to talk about casualties or damages, which he said were the responsibility of the Ministry of Social Welfare and Resettlement.

2 June 2004Brazil

Heavy rains in the north-east Brazilian state of Alagoas have killed 20 people and left 2,100 homeless, mainly from mudslides in hilly slums around the state capital, Maceio, an official said today. Heavy rains pounded the state Monday night and yesterday, turning many streets into muddy, brown streams, Civil Defense spokesman, Feliciano de Almeida, said by telephone from Maceio, a seaside resort city of 700,000 people, some 1,200 miles north of Sao Paulo. The rain tapered off by today, with clear skies forecast for the rest of the week. Most of the homeless were in low-lying working class districts, he said, adding that they were being cared for in public school buildings. Of the 20 dead, 18 were killed in mudslides and two by drowning.

2 June 2004. The number of deaths due to the ongoing torrential rains in north-eastern Brazil rose to 28 today as authorities found the bodies of seven more victims, officials said. Alagoas fire department commander, Col. Jadir Ferreira Cunha, said that the number of fatalities was expected to rise further. Authorities said that 54 people have been injured in the bad weather and 2,200 have lost their homes. Alagoas state governor, Ronaldo Lessa, said that the regional capital was declared a disaster area, adding that no value had as yet been calculated for the damage. The National Civil Defence Department today issued an advisory about the possibility of new storms tomorrow and Friday (June 4) in the southern and south-eastern portions of the country. The department said that in the states of Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul there could be heavy rains, thunderstorms and winds of up to 70 kilometres per hour. Authorities also predict new storms over the next two days in Alagoas and in the neighbouring states of Pernambuco and Sergipe.

28 May 2004China

A dam in central China has been burst by flash floods and at least 18 people swept away, the official Xinhua news agency has reported. A total of 12 of the missing are children, whose school minibus was engulfed as they headed home yesterday. So far only one body has been found, that of a three-year-old child, about one kilometre downstream. The accident happened in Hubei province near the town of Enshi, where a reservoir dam is being constructed. Xinhua said local government officials had mobilised more than 5,000 people, including 500 soldiers and armed police, to search downstream along the Qingjiang river, a tributary of the Yangtze River. It said the Dalongtan reservoir was still under construction when rainstorms on Wednesday (May 26) and yesterday brought torrents of water down into the reservoir and broke the cofferdam, a temporary structure designed to hold water back while construction goes on.

7 June 2004. A total of 21 people are feared dead after a massive landslide engulfed a village in the south-western municipality of Chongqing at the weekend. A total of 24 people were buried alive in Wansheng under as much as 200,000 cubic metres of mud and coal-mine waste after days of heavy rain. Only three people were pulled out alive, Xinhua reported. Five bodies were recovered in a rescue operation led by Chongqing Mayor Wang Hongju but the report said rescuers held little hope of finding any more survivors. “It is almost impossible that any of those missing have survived because the rubble slid down about 800 metres,” a rescuer was quoted as saying. The three rescued people were out of danger and recovering in hospital. A total of 14 homes were buried on Saturday afternoon (June 5) when the rain triggered the collapse of a hill and pile of mine waste but 32 of the 56 residents were not at home at the time of the disaster. At least eight two-storey homes were destroyed by the landslide, which was 150 metres wide and 1km long, the Guangzhou-based Southern Metropolis News reported. More than 100 villagers were evacuated by authorities and special teams had been set up to help relocate the victims’ families, the Xinhua report said. About 500 police and a large number of villagers participated in the rescue efforts, the agency reported. However, the operation was hampered by the scale of the landslide, even though at least six bulldozers were used. The mud was four metres thick at its deepest point. Rescuers had been warned there could be more landslides as the hill was in danger of collapsing further, Xinhua said. Wansheng is 110 km south-east of the Chongqing city centre and borders Guizhou province.