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20 January 2005
Guyana appealed to the international community today to send food, boats, power generators and water pumps to help thousands of its inhabitants forced from their homes by the worst floods in more than a century. President Bharrat Jagdeo’s government made the appeal to diplomats in Georgetown after declaring the capital and outlying areas disaster zones, government officials said. In the heaviest rains to hit the South American state in more than 100 years, at least one person drowned and thousands more were sheltering in schools and churches to escape floodwaters that swamped Georgetown and settlements to the east and west on the Atlantic coast. A Brazilian military aircraft was due to fly in a donation of 16 ton of food today, Brazil’s embassy said. Guyana’s army was helping to distribute food to flood victims, using boats to reach areas cut off by the water. The US Embassy in Georgetown, which was closed earlier this week because of the floods, said it was allowing the voluntary evacuation of non-essential personnel and families. It warned Americans who chose to stay that the floods had disrupted power and traffic and police had reported thieves were taking advantage of the floods to try to rob motorists.
24 January 2005. A US aid official rejected claims that donors have been slow to respond to the severe flooding in Guyana, saying the first US relief shipment would arrive tomorrow. The South American nation last week appealed for international aid after more than 40 in. of rain in three weeks – the most in a century – caused flooding that killed at least six people and drove thousands from their homes. President Bharrat Jagdeo complained yesterday about the pace of international relief efforts, saying most aid agencies and donors have been sending assessment teams before approving aid. Mike Sarhan, mission Director of the US Agency for International Development in Guyana, rejected such claims, saying complete information on specific needs after the rains was not immediately available. “But now we have a matrix and things should start to move a little quicker,” he said. The supplies will include 10,000 blankets, hygiene kits and water cans, Sarhan said today. Flood waters continued to recede today, but forecasters said there could be more rain this week. Jagdeo has said the floods had affected more than half the population of 750,000. Most Guyanese live on the low-lying coast.
24 January 2005
Eight people were killed after being washed away by flood waters near the western city of Medina during the worst torrential storm to hit Saudi Arabia in 20 years, newspapers reported today. Many residents of Medina were forced to leave their homes after they were flooded while a dam outside the city collapsed, isolating villages where fire brigades rescued 43 stranded people. Two pilgrims on the annual Hajj pilgrimage reportedly died and 196 others suffered fractures when they fell down during rare heavy rains which lashed the Mecca region Saturday (22 January), partly flooding pilgrim camps in Mina and causing traffic jams.
25 January 2005. Heavy rain and flash floods have killed 29 people in Saudi Arabia’s western city of Medina, according to reports. The storm, which disrupted the last day of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, is believed to have been the worst to hit the desert kingdom in some 20 years. Regional governor Prince Muqrin bin Abdul Aziz said another 17 people were injured, al-Madina newspaper reported. The governor said the storm had caused enormous damage to roads, electricity and communications networks, but he said the floods had not affected the thousands of pilgrims who came to Medina after completing the Hajj in Mecca and Mina at the weekend. According to the Arab newspaper, more than 400 buses left Mecca for Medina, taking pilgrims to visit the Prophet Mohammed’s mosque and tomb in Islam’s second-most sacred city. Prince Muqrin said most of the 29 people killed had underestimated the danger of walking or driving down Medina’s valleys after heavy rains.
27 January 2005
The worst snowfalls in more than 50 years have paralysed Algeria’s capital, Algiers, and more than a third of the country, the authorities say. The bad weather is reported to have caused at least ten deaths and hundreds of motorists have had to be rescued from their stranded vehicles. Towns and villages have been cut off, while many sporting events have been postponed until next week. Weather forecasters say the conditions will persist for several days. The Algerian authorities said people should not venture out unless necessary. Several areas in the north-east, including the port oil city of Skikda, were cut off after 36 hours of snow and strong winds. Most of the ten fatalities have been caused by traffic accidents.
1 February 2005
A storm caused at least 11 deaths, 52 injuries and left 200 homeless in Argentina, the authorities said yesterday. Eight people were killed and 49 wounded when a bus carrying tourists collided with a truck on the Buenos Aires Route 41, near the city of San Andres de Giles. A woman and two minors died in the area of Buenos Aires Luis Guillon after strong winds forced a tree to fall on their house. The other three were injured on Route 3 where a bus collided with an official vehicle. Nearly 2,000 Uruguay-bound passengers were stranded after heavy rains and strong winds forced the Uruguayan navy to close the ports of Montevideo and Colonia. In Buenos Aires, the Buquebus company’s two vessels suspended their planned voyage to the Uruguayan harbours. The Atlantic, the only one departing for Montevideo, had to return due to the poor weather.
8 February 2005
At least ten people have been killed in avalanches that have isolated several mountainous regions in eastern Tajikistan, officials in the Central Asian country announced here today. The ten deaths were in the district of Nurobad around 140 km east of Dushanbe, where another four people were hospitalised in critical conditions, Emergency Situations Minister Mirzo Zieyev said. The avalanches, triggered after recent heavy snowfall in eastern Tajikistan, destroyed dozens of homes and a school in the region, he added. Communications were cut with at least seven regions in the mountains of eastern Tajikistan and authorities had received no word from “dozens of mountain villages that have been isolated by the snow,” Zieyev said. “Access there is very difficult and we have no idea what is happening.” Around 3,000 people, including many children, were evacuated from the Nurobad region and were currently being sheltered in schools, mosques or hospitals.
9 February 2005
Heavy rains sent rivers overflowing in Venezuela, killing at least five people and leaving two missing as floods triggered landslides, destroyed homes and forced thousands to flee. Landslides crushed several homes in Caracas, killing three people yesterday, said fire department commander Colonel Francis Morales. The authorities ordered more than 4,300 people to evacuate their homes, and more than 500 people lost their homes entirely to flooding or landslides, Rivero said. The government will declare a state of emergency in Caracas and six northern states, Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said. Rangel said officials were providing shelter for those forced from their homes. He said the latest forecast suggested the rainstorms would gradually move from the north-central states toward eastern Venezuela. Governor Antonio Rodriguez declared an emergency in the coastal state of Vargas yesterday afternoon as dozens of people were evacuated from their homes. Rodriguez said people were stranded in some coastal towns where floodwaters blocked roads. Floods in three subway stations in Caracas forced officials to limit train service, said Dolores Gonzalez, President of the Caracas Metro. The rising waters also forced officials at Vaquero Gonzalez Hospital in western Caracas to move patients out of the first floor and into surgery and trauma units on upper floors, hospital Director Belen Briceno told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency.
9 February 2005. Helicopters rescued stranded Venezuelans yesterday after flood waters struck the mountainous central coast, triggering landslides, destroying homes and washing out roads. Officials said at least 13 people were killed and thousands of others were forced from their homes. The government declared a state of emergency in the capital of Caracas and six nearby states as torrential rains caused widespread flooding yesterday and today. Swollen rivers ran across roads along the Caribbean Coast, stranding thousands.
14 February 2005. At least 48 people are now known to have died in Venezuela after torrential rains, while another 25 have been killed in neighbouring Colombia. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez today updated his country’s toll, reporting 18 deaths in the south-western state of Merida.
Colombia has declared a state of emergency after at least 25 people were killed and 22 others injured over eight days of storms. Three people were missing, and 30,000 people were left homeless. The worst-hit towns were in Norte de Santander Province, which borders Venezuela. Colombian President Alvaro Uribe called the situation “dramatic” and promised the interior, communications, housing and social welfare ministries “the necessary resources to take care of the people”.
14 February 2005. There has been heavy rainfalls in the city of Caracas, La Guaira and Puerto Cabello since 7 February and some warehouses in the ports of La Guaira and Puerto Cabello could have been affected by rain as flooding has occurred once again. A national emergency has been declared and many roads are closed as a result of slips. Therefore, there is no transit of merchandise particularly from La Guaira to some cities until the roads are cleared.
14 February 2005. Troops in helicopters today shuttled food, water and medical supplies to remote mountain towns where dozens of people were missing after devastating floods and landslides that have killed at least 86 people in Venezuela and Colombia. At least 53 Venezuelans have been killed in a week of floods and landslides that have destroyed the homes of some 21,200 people from the Caribbean Coast to the south-western mountains, Interior Minister Jesse Chacon said. At least 33 people were reported killed in neighbouring Colombia, where some 40,000 were forced from their homes. The death toll in Venezuela included at least 32 people in the south-western state of Merida, two more in the western states of Tachira and Zulia, and 19 others last week in northern and central states, Army Col. Humberto Arellano said. Many of the latest deaths occurred among the steep mountain peaks of the Mocoties river. The bodies of several victims floated for miles downstream, fire-fighters said. At least 50 people were listed as missing, Chacon said. Officials have said the actual casualty figure could be much higher because floodwaters and mud have prevented emergency workers from reaching some buses that were swept away in Santa Cruz de Mora. The floods also washed away crops from potatoes to coffee and destroyed a chicken farm, doing away with some of the few sources of work in the small Andean towns, said Guzman Varela, a resident of Tovar.
11 February 2005
The death toll in Pakistan has risen to at least 46 as people are swept away by flash floods caused by the heaviest rain and snowfall to hit the country in more than a decade, witnesses and officials say. The floods caused by incessant rains played havoc in the remote Pasni town in the south-western Baluchistan Province, submerging several nearby villages. Officials said flash floods also swept away several bridges on the main coastal highway linking Baluchistan to the southern port city of Karachi. At least 31 people were killed by heavy rain elsewhere in the country over the past week. Most of those who died were killed in avalanches, flash floods and collapsing roofs. Scores of others have been injured. A family of eight, including six children, was killed when the roof of their mud house collapsed due to rain in Pishin area, about 40 km north of Quetta, according to local official Maqbool Anwar. Another 13 people, including a soldier of the paramilitary Frontier Corps, were killed by flash floods or roof collapses in the south-western province this week, officials said. Remote northern areas, where the Himalaya, Karakorum and Hindu Kush mountain ranges collide, are cut off from the rest of the country, with roads buried under several feet of snow with the situation particularly bad in the Chitral valley.
11 February 2005. The death toll in Pakistan due to the heaviest rains and snowfall in more than a decade rose to as many as 51 today, and a burst dam in the south-west raised fears that many more people may have died. At least 20 people were killed when the Shadikor dam burst near the remote coastal town of Pasni in south-western Baluchistan Province. Officials said rescuers were still searching inundated villages and the army had been called in. Provincial Minister Sher Jan Baluch said at least five nearby villages had been totally submerged, raising fears the death toll could rise, he said. Troops backed by helicopters were being sent to Pasni to rescue people left marooned when the dam burst, said military spokesman Major-General Shaukat Sultan, adding that it was too early to know the extent of casualties and destruction. Pakistan has seen its heaviest rains and snowfalls for 16 years, according to the Meteorological Department. Officials said flash floods swept away several bridges on the main coastal highway linking Baluchistan to Karachi. Remote northern areas, where the Himalaya, Karakoram and Hindu Kush mountain ranges meet, have been cut off, with roads buried under several feet of snow and the Chitral valley particularly badly affected. The Karakoram Highway, linking Pakistan and China, has been blocked and flights have been suspended since 3 February, said residents of Gilgit, the main town in the northern areas. Weather officials said the intensity of rains had subsided in Baluchistan but would continue in most of the rest of Pakistan for the next 24 hours.
12 February 2005. The death toll in the Shadi Kaur Dam disaster and flash flood caused by hill torrents in Pasni and the adjoining areas of Baluchistan rose to 70 yesterday, with hundreds of people of villages inundated by the dam reported missing. Army and Navy personnel carrying out rescue and relief work in the area claimed to have saved about 1,500 lives. According to reports, parts of the Pasni township and many adjoining villages were still under water and rescue teams have moved several thousand people to safe places.
12 February 2005. Pakistan launched a relief operation for 20,000 people stricken by torrential rains in the south-west, as floods and avalanches killed over 260 nationwide so far, officials said today. There were more fatalities from avalanches in mountainous areas of nearby parts of Afghanistan and Indian-held Kashmir, but it was Pakistan that suffered most. Authorities rushed in thousands of troops to help rescue efforts in the remote province of Baluchistan. Local government spokesman Razak Bugti said 500 people were missing after a dam burst late Thursday following the worst deluge in 16 years. Newspapers reported officials saying thousands of families in Baluchistan had lost their homes, crops and livestock. Villages near the coastal town of Pasni bore the brunt of the destruction when waters breached the Shadikor dam, sweeping away people and houses. Provincial minister Sher Jan Baluch said the death toll from the disaster had risen to 71. More than 40 people have been killed in other rain-affected parts of the province. Officials said at least five villages, home to around 7,000 people, had been submerged by waters pouring from the ruptured dam, a 35 m high embankment 300 m long constructed just two years ago. Around 4,000 people living near the Akra Caur Dam supplying water to nearby Gawadar port had also been evacuated as water levels passed danger limits, officials said. Parts of Pasni were under a meter of water and tents had been put up on higher ground for displaced families. Officials say 6,000 army, paramilitary and navy troops have been mobilised. Military transport planes and trucks were ferrying in food, blankets, tents and other emergency supplies, while helicopters flew over flooded areas as several bridges along the main coastal highway had been washed away. At least 11 people died in avalanches elsewhere in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, and houses were evacuated in the capital Muzaffarabad because of the threat that the downpour could trigger a landslide.
16 February 2005. The death toll in Pakistan due to two-week long heavy rains and snowfall rose to 431 yesterday. About 260 deaths occurred in North-West Frontier province, 111 in Baluchistan Province and 60 in Azad Jammu and Kashmir, according to respective government officials. While thousands of people were injured in rain-related incidents, mainly in collapse of their houses besides still to be assessed colossal damage to livestock, crops and communication infrastructure. The toll is likely to rise with the development of relief works for at least 2,000 still missing in Baluchistan Province caused by rains and dam bursts. However, some reports from other local media said the death toll had surpassed 500 up to yesterday.