Torrential rains caused flooding in western and northern Rwanda, killing at least 129 people, a public broadcaster said Wednesday. The death toll “continues to rise,” the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency said Wednesday. “This could be the highest disaster-induced death toll to be recorded in the country in the shortest period, according to available records from recent years,” the government-backed New Times newspaper reported. Also read: Turkey floods kill 10 in earthquake-affected provinces Francois Habitegeko, governor of Rwanda’s Western province, told reporters that a search for more victims was underway following heavy rain Tuesday night and Wednesday morning. Strong rainstorms started last week, causing flooding and mudslides that swept away several houses across the country and left some roads inaccessible. The Rwanda Meteorology Agency has warned that more rain is coming. The government has in the past asked residents living in wetlands and other dangerous areas to relocate. The western and northern provinces and Kigali, the capital, are particularly hilly, making them vulnerable to landslides during the rainy season. The Ministry of Emergency Management reported last month that from January to April 20, weather-related disasters killed 60 people, destroyed more than 1,205 houses and damaged 2,000 hectares (around 5,000 acres) of land across Rwanda. Parts of East Africa, including Uganda’s southwest, also are seeing heavy rainfall. At least three people drowned in floods last week after a river burst its banks in the remote Ugandan district of Rukungiri.
As a huge storm approached California on Wednesday, officials began ordering evacuations in a high-risk coastal area where mudslides killed 23 people in 2018, while residents elsewhere in the state scrambled to find sandbags, and braced themselves for flooding and power outages. California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to allow for a quick response and to aid in cleanup from another powerful storm just days earlier. Dozens of flights were cancelled at the San Francisco International Airport, and South San Francisco schools preemptively cancelled Thursday classes. As the storm intensified, state officials warned residents in Northern California to stay off the roads. The first evacuations were ordered for those living in the burn scar areas of three recent wildfires in Santa Barbara County, where heavy rain is expected overnight, and could cause widespread flooding and unleash debris flows in several areas. Among them is the tony town of Montecito, home to many celebrities, including Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle. “We anticipate that this may be one of the most challenging and impactful series of storms to touch down in California in the last five years,” said Nancy Ward, the new director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services. Officials asked drivers to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary — and to stay informed by signing up for updates from emergency officials about downed trees and power lines, and flooding. In Northern California, a 25-mile (40-kilometer) stretch of Highway 101 was closed between the towns of Trinidad and Orick due to several downed trees. Before the storm arrives late Wednesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said people should evacuate the areas impacted by the Alisal Fire last year, the Cave Fire in 2019 and the devastating Thomas Fire in 2017, one of the largest in California history. On Jan. 9, 2018, massive torrents carrying huge boulders, mud and debris roared down coastal mountains, and through the town of Montecito to the shoreline, killing 23 people and destroying more than 100 homes. Among those killed were two children whose bodies were never found. Read more: 48 deaths reported in US from massive storm Montecito Fire Department Chief Kevin Taylor said Wednesday that homes near waterways are at the greatest risk. “What we’re talking about here is a lot of water coming off the top of the hills, coming down into the creeks and streams and as it comes down, it gains momentum and that’s what the initial danger is,” he said. Storms in the last 30 days have produced between 8 to 13 inches of rain, soaking coastal hills in Santa Barbara County. The current storm is projected to drop up to 10 inches of rain in the area, Taylor said. “This cumulative rain ... is what causes our risk,” he said. The storm, set to be in full force in Northern California by Wednesday evening, is one of three so-called atmospheric river storms in the last week to reach the drought-stricken state. Because the states' major reservoirs are at a record low from a dry three-year period, they have plenty of room to fill with more water from the impending storm, officials said. Still, trees are already stressed from years of limited rain. Now that the grounds are suddenly saturated and winds are heavy, trees are more likely to fall. That could cause widespread power outages or create flood hazards, said Karla Nemeth, director of the state’s Department of Water Resources. “We are in the middle of a flood emergency and also in the middle of a drought emergency,” she said during an emergency briefing. The storm comes days after a New Year’s Eve downpour led to the evacuations of people in rural Northern California communities and the rescue of several motorists from flooded roads. A few levees south of Sacramento were damaged. In the San Francisco Bay Area, 8,500 sandbags distributed by officials weren’t enough to reach demand Wednesday as forecasters warned of imminent flooding. The South San Francisco Unified School District announced classes for its 8,000 students would be canceled Thursday “out of an abundance of caution.” Heavy downpours accompanied by winds with gusts of up to 60 mph (96 kph) were expected later Wednesday and through Thursday, making driving conditions difficult, the National Weather Service said. In Southern California, the storm was expected to peak in intensity overnight, with Santa Barbara and Ventura counties likely to see the most rain, forecasters said. Read more: Wild winter storm envelops US, snarling Christmas travel Aaron Johnson, Pacific Gas & Electric regional vice president for the Bay Area, said the company has more than 3,000 employees working in crews of three to five people to assess damages to their equipment and restore power as soon as possible. Robert O’Neill, an insurance broker who lives and works just south of San Francisco, said he lined up to get sandbags for his garage and for a co-worker’s home to prepare for the storm. As president of Town & Country Insurance Services, he gave employees the option of working from home Wednesday, which many did, he said. He plans to leave the office early and head home where he has go-bags packed with clothes, medicine, electronic chargers and important papers. He has sleeping bags and three days’ worth of water, nuts and protein bars. “We’re in a big city, so we wouldn’t be too stranded too long, but you never know,” he said. The storms in California still aren’t enough to officially end the drought, now entering its fourth year. The U.S. Drought Monitor showed that most of the state is in severe to extreme drought. Elsewhere, in the Midwest, ice and heavy snow has taken a toll this week, closing down schools in Minnesota and western Wisconsin — and causing a jet to go off an icy taxiway after landing in a snowstorm in Minneapolis. No passengers were injured, Delta airlines said. To the south, a possible tornado damaged homes, downed trees and flipped a vehicle on its side in Montgomery, Alabama, early Wednesday. Christina Thornton, director of the Montgomery Emergency Management Agency, said radar indicated a possible, but unconfirmed, tornado. The storm had extremely high winds and moved through the area before dawn, she said. Staff from the National Weather Service's Chicago office planned to survey storm damage on Wednesday following at least six tornados, the largest number of rare January tornadoes recorded in the state since 1989.
Heavy rains and floods that devastated parts of the Philippines over the Christmas weekend have left at least 32 dead and 24 missing, the national disaster response agency said Thursday. More than 56,000 people were still in emergency shelters after bad weather disrupted Christmas celebrations in the eastern, central and southern Philippines. Images from the southern province of Misamis Occidental showed rescuers carrying an elderly woman on a plastic chair as they waded through a flooded street. Some residents in the province were seen hanging on to floaters as coast guard rescuers pulled them across chest-deep floods using a rope. Eighteen of the 32 deaths were reported in the Northern Mindanao region, while 22 of the 24 missing were from Eastern Visayas in the central Philippines and the eastern Bicol region, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Most of the deaths were from drowning while among the missing were fishermen whose boats capsized, the agency said. Read more: Philippine rain, flooding cause at least 25 deaths Over 4,000 houses were damaged by the floods along with roads and bridges, and some areas were without power or water, the agency reported. A shear line — the point where warm and cold air meet — triggered rains in parts of the country, the state weather bureau said. It forecast light to heavy rains in the next 24 hours for some of the same areas affected by the floods.
The scale of the humanitarian crisis in Pakistan is unprecedented, with a third of the country under water, the UN said Friday. More than 33 million people, 15 percent of the total Pakistani population, have been affected, Dr Palitha Mahipala, the World Health Organization (WHO) representative in the country, said. "More than 6.4 million people are in dire need of humanitarian aid." In the past few weeks, record monsoon rains dumped more than five times the 30-year average for rainfall in some provinces, killing more than 1,200 people and injuring over 6,000 since June. As rains continue and flooding is likely to worsen over the coming days, there is an urgent need to scale up disease surveillance, restore damaged health facilities, and ensure sufficient medicines and health supplies to affected communities. Read: Pakistan fatal flooding has hallmarks of warming "Affected people have told our staff on the ground about their traumatic and scarring experiences as rain and floodwaters swept away their possessions in minutes," Matthew Saltmarsh, spokesperson for the UN refugee agency, said. Torrential monsoon rainfall has caused the River Indus to overflow, submerging land for tens of kilometres wide, according to recent images from the European Space Agency. Crops and livestock have been lost, having a significant impact on both livelihood and nutrition of afflicted communities. Pakistan, which is already facing political and economic turmoil, has been thrown into the front line of the human-induced climate crisis. The South Asian country of 220 million people faced dramatic weather conditions this year, from record heatwaves to deadly floods. Pakistan is home to more glaciers than anywhere outside the polar areas. Global warming makes the country more vulnerable to sudden outbursts of melting glacier water, according to the Meteorological Department in Islamabad.
Planes carrying fresh supplies are surging across a humanitarian air bridge to flood-ravaged Pakistan as the death toll surged past 1,200, officials said Friday, with families and children at special risk of disease and homelessness. The ninth flight from the United Arab Emirates and the first from Uzbekistan were the latest to land in Islamabad overnight as a military-backed rescue operation elsewhere in the country reached more of the 3 million people affected by the disaster. Two more planes from U.A.E and Qatar with aid will arrive in Pakistan later Friday, and a Turkish train carrying relief goods for flood victims was on its way to the impoverished nation, according to the Foreign Ministry. Read: UN seeks $160 million in emergency aid for Pakistan floods Meanwhile, a Turkish delegation headed by Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to convey his condolences to him over damages caused by floods. Multiple officials blamed the unusual monsoon and flooding on climate change, including U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who earlier this week called on the world to stop “sleepwalking” through the deadly crisis. Guterres will visit Pakistan on Sept. 9 to tour flood-hit areas and meet with officials. In a statement Friday, the U.N. refugee agency said although the outcome of Tuesday’s funding appeal from the U.N. was “very encouraging," more help is needed. UNHCR spokesman Matthew Saltmarsh said they were quickly releasing tents, as well as blankets, plastic sheets, buckets and other household items for flood victims. “Our staff in the country report that the scale of the devastation that people face is unimaginable," he said. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement Friday that the planes brought food items, medicine and tents. Sharif had planned to travel to UAE on Saturday, but he postponed the trip to visit flood-hit areas at home. So far, Pakistan has received aid from China, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, Uzbekistan, U.A.E. and some other countries. This week, the United States also announced to provide $30 million worth of aid for the flood victims. Read: Pakistan fatal flooding has hallmarks of warming Pakistan blames climate change for the recent heavy monsoon rains that triggered floods. Asim Iftikhar, the spokesman at Foreign Ministry, said at a news briefing the previous day that the crisis has lent credibility to climate change warnings from scientists. “This is not a conspiracy, this is a reality and we need to be mindful," he said. According to initial government estimates, the devastation has caused $10 billion in damages. Since 1959, Pakistan has emitted about 0.4% of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, compared to 21.5% by the United States and 16.4% by China, according to scientists and experts. Pakistani officials and experts say there’s been a 400% increase in average rainfall in Pakistan's areas like Baluchistan and Sindh, which led to the extreme flooding. Earlier this week, the United Nations and Pakistan jointly issued an appeal for $160 million in emergency funding to help the 3.3 million people affected by floods that have damaged over 1 million homes. On Friday, authorities were warning people in the district of Dadu in the southern Sindh province to move to safer places ahead of floodwater from the swollen Indus river that's expected to hit the region this week. In May, some parts of Sindh were the hottest place in Pakistan. Now people are facing floods there that have caused an outbreak of waterborne diseases. Although flood waters continued to recede in most of the country, many districts in Sindh remained underwater. Farah Naureen, the director for Pakistan at the international aid agency Mercy Corps, told The Associated Press that around 73,000 women will be giving birth within the next month, and they needed skilled birth attendants, privacy, and birth facilities. Otherwise, she said, the survival of the mother and the newborn will be at risk. According to the military, rescuers, backed by troops, resumed rescue and relief operations early Friday. Rescuers are mostly using boats, but helicopters are also flying to evacuate stranded people from remote flood-hit towns, villages and districts across Pakistan areas and deliver food to them. Since mid-June, floods have also killed 733,488 goats, cows, and buffaloes apart from damaging crops. It forced Pakistan's government to start importing vegetables to avoid a shortage of food. Pakistan is also in contact with Russia to import wheat, as floods destroyed grains stored by many villagers in homes to meet their whole year's needs.
The United Nations and Pakistan issued an appeal Tuesday for $160 million in emergency funding to help millions affected by record-breaking floods that have killed more than 1,160 people since mid-June. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Pakistan’s flooding, caused by weeks of unprecedented monsoon rains, were a signal to the world to step up action against climate change. “Let’s stop sleepwalking toward the destruction of our planet by climate change,” he said in a video message to an Islamabad ceremony launching the funding appeal. “Today, it’s Pakistan. Tomorrow, it could be your country.” Guterres will visit Pakistan on Sept. 9 to tour areas “most impacted by this unprecedented climate catastrophe,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric announced Tuesday. The U.N. chief meet displaced families and witness how U.N. staff are their humanitarian partners are supporting government efforts to provide assistance, Dujarric said More than 33 million people, or one in seven Pakistanis, have been affected by the catastrophic flooding, which has devastated a country already trying to revive a struggling economy. More than 1 million homes have been damaged or destroyed in the past two and half months, displacing millions of people. Around a half million of those displaced are living in organized camps, while others have had to find their own shelter. Read: Over 33 mln people, 72 districts of Pakistan affected by floods Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the floods badly destroyed crops, and his government was considering importing wheat to avoid any shortage of food. Sharif said Pakistan was witnessing the worst flooding in its history and any inadvertent delay by the international community in helping victims “will be devastating for the people of Pakistan.” He promised funds from the international community would be spent in a transparent manner and that he would ensure all aid reaches those in need. “This is my commitment,” he told reporters, saying his country is “facing the toughest moment of its history.” Pakistan says it has received aid from some countries, and others were dispatching aid too. On Tuesday, the U.S. government said it would provide $30 million in assistance to help victims of the flood. According to a statement released by the U.S. Agency for International Development, this aid will be given to Pakistan through USAID. It said the United States is deeply saddened by the devastating loss of life and livelihoods throughout Pakistan. Youtube video thumbnailAccording to initial government estimates, the devastation caused $10 billion in damage to the economy. “It is a preliminary estimate likely to be far greater,” Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal told The Associated Press. More than 243 bridges and more than 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles) of road have been damaged. Although rains stopped three days ago, large swaths of the country remain underwater, and the main rivers, the Indus and the Swat, are still swollen. The National Disaster Management Authority on Tuesday warned emergency services to be on maximum alert, saying flood waters over the next 24 hours could cause further damage. Rescuers continued to evacuate stranded people from inundated villages to safer ground. Makeshift tent camps have sprung up along highways. Meteorologists have warned of more rains in coming weeks. “The situation is likely to deteriorate even further as heavy rains continue over areas already inundated by more than two months of storms and flooding. For us, this is no less than a national emergency,” Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari said Tuesday, urging the international community to give generously to the U.N. appeal. “Since mid-June, in fact, Pakistan has been battling one of the most severe, totally anomalous cycles of torrential monsoon weather,” he said. Rainfall during that time was three times the average, and up to six times higher in some areas, he said. Read: Pakistan flooding deaths pass 1,000 in 'climate catastrophe' The U.N. flash appeal for $160 million will provide food, water, sanitation, health and other forms of aid to some 5.2 million people, Gutteres said. “The scale of needs is rising like the flood waters. It requires the world’s collective and prioritized attention,” he said. Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Asim Iftikhar told U.N. correspondents at a virtual press conference that Turkey, China, United Arab Emirates and Qatar all offered relief supplies, some of which has already arrived. More important will be the next reconstruction and rehabilitation phase where requirements are going to be “huge,” he said. A day earlier, the International Monetary Fund’s executive board approved the release of a much awaited $1.17 billion for Pakistan. The funds are part of a $6 billion bailout agreed on in 2019. The latest tranche had been on hold since earlier this year, when the IMF expressed concern about Pakistan’s compliance with the deal’s terms under the government of former Prime Minister Imran Khan. Khan was ousted through a no-confidence vote in the parliament in April. Pakistan has risked default as its reserves dwindle and inflation has spiraled, and to get the IMF bailout, the government has had to agree to austerity measures. The flooding catastrophe, however, adds new burdens to the cash-strapped government. It also reflects how poorer countries often pay the price for climate change largely caused by more industrialized nations. Since 1959, Pakistan is responsible for only 0.4% of the world’s historic emissions blamed for climate change. The U.S. is responsible for 21.5%, China for 16.5% and the EU 15%. Several scientists say the record-breaking flooding has all the hallmarks of being affected by climate change. “This year, Pakistan has received the highest rainfall in at least three decades,” said Abid Qaiyum Suleri, executive director of the Sustainable Development Policy Institute and a member of Pakistan’s Climate Change Council. “Extreme weather patterns are turning more frequent in the region and Pakistan is not an exception.”
Flash floods triggered by heavy rains continued to tear up homes across Sudan, an official said Tuesday, with the death toll rising to 66 since the start of the rainy season. Earlier this week, authorities had said that at least 50 people were killed since the rains started in June. Brig. Gen. Abdul-Jalil Abdul-Rahim, spokesman for Sudan’s National Council for Civil Defense, said Tuesday that at least 28 people were reported injured during the same period. Some 24,000 homes and two dozen government buildings have been badly damaged or completely destroyed, he said. Sudan has been without a functioning government since an October military coup derailed its short-lived democratic transition following the 2019 removal of longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising. Overall, around 136,000 people have been impacted by heavy rainfall and floods in 12 of Sudan’s 18 provinces, according to the government-run Humanitarian Aid Commission. Read: 357 killed, over 400 injured as monsoon rains continue to batter Pakistan The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the floods also inundated 238 health facilities. The western Darfur region and the provinces of Nile River, White Nile, West Kordofan and South Kordofan were among the hardest hit, it said. Footage circulated online over the past weeks showing flood waters sweeping through streets and people struggling to save their belongings. Sudan’s rainy season usually starts in June and lasts until the end of September, with floods peaking in August and September. More than 80 people were killed last year in flood-related incidents during the rainy season. In 2020, authorities declared Sudan a natural disaster area and imposed a three-month state of emergency across the country after flooding and heavy rains killed around 100 people and inundated over 100,000 houses.
The death toll from Friday's flash floods in the southern Iranian province of Fars has risen to 21, and three others are still missing, rescue sources told state media on Saturday. Mehdi Valipour, head of the Iranian Red Crescent Society, said initially 89 people were stuck in the flood waters, and that the rescue operation will continue until the rest of the missing people are found. Speaking to the semi-official Mehr News Agency earlier in the day, Estahban Governor Yousef Kargar said 13 of the recovered bodies have been identified. Also read: China floods leave at least 12 dead, thousands evacuated He noted that so far, 55 people, who were stuck in areas surrounded by the flood, have been rescued and that a rescue operation is underway. The governor blamed the Iran Meteorological Organization for failing to issue an adequately strong warning prior to the heavy rainfall on Friday evening. Also read: Heat wave, flooding leave multiple people dead in China
The monsoon floods that ravaged the Sylhet region have turned the studies of over 4.55 students in 1522 institutions uncertain as they lost their books and educational materials amid no sign of immediate reopening of their classes. The authorities are compiling a report on the extent of damages caused by the worst floods to hit the region in living memory this month, according to Prof Shahedul Khabir Chwodhury, director of Department of Secondary and Higher Education (DSHE), Sylhet. Read:Another spell of Flood looms over northeastern region Reports received from the evaluation wing of DSHE, 100 educational institutions in the flood-hit upazilas under Sylhet division can be operated fully while 100 can reopen partially. Besides, over 500 educational institutions remained closed in the flood-hit areas while 450 others are still used as shelter homes for flood victims, Shahedul said. He said the text books of many students have been washed away in the flood-affected areas. The examinees of Secondary School Examination (SSC) examinations are worried about sitting for the exams as flood waters damaged their books. Tofazzal Hossain, a student of Salutikor High School in Sadar upazila, said “My books were washed away by the flood water and I have failed to collect replacement from the local school as they have no extra copies.” Shihab Ahmed, a class VII student and resident of Rayergaon area of Sadar upazila, said “Flood water entered into our houses on June 17 and I am yet to collect new books and copies. When we returned home on June 24 and I found all of my books and copies damaged.” About 80 per cent areas in Sylhet districts were flooded while over 21 lakh people got stranded in the second wave of the deluge on June 15.
The European Commission is providing €2 million in funding for emergency assistance to those affected by the current floods in Bangladesh and India.For Bangladesh, the EU has released € 1.2 million in humanitarian aid funding to people affected by the flooding in the north-east and northern regions of the country, according to message received here on Friday.The floods this year are considered worse than those experienced in 1998 and 2004. Also read: IFC blames flood disaster on unplanned development Bangladesh and India’s Meghalaya, Assam For India, the EU provides € 800,000 in emergency assistance with a focus to support people in the most flood affected areas of the Assam state.The support will benefit affected and displaced people in the worst-hit regions of the two countries and it will be channelled through the EU's humanitarian aid partners on the ground.Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarcic said the severe monsoon and flooding in Bangladesh and India has left behind a trail of destruction. Also read: Abdul Monem Ltd to provide support to flood affected people in Sylhet"With many people having lost their family members, homes, belongings and sources of livelihoods, the humanitarian situation is grave and expected to worsen in the upcoming days. This is why the EU has released €2 million in emergency funding to ensure our partners on the ground can provide support to those most in need.”