Hundreds die in India, Pakistan after heaviest rain in 50 years

admin   •   September 10, 2014   •   2521

A Pakistani man uses a rope while he wades through a flooded field beside his house following heavy rain in Pindi Bhattian, Punjab Province September 9, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/ZOHRA BENSEMRA

(Reuters) – The death toll from the heaviest rain to fall on Kashmir in 50 years rose to more than 400 on Tuesday, with thousands still trapped on rooftops and residents criticizing Indian and Pakistani authorities for not doing enough to help them.

On the Indian side of the heavily militarized Line of Control that divides the Himalayan region, the city of Srinagar lay submerged along with more than 2,000 villages.

“The damage is shocking,” a senior official from India’s National Disaster Response Force said in New Delhi. “People have been stranded on the rooftops of their homes for the last three days in some parts of Kashmir.”

The official, who requested anonymity, said he would have deployed disaster-response teams earlier, but “we were all caught off guard because there was not a single warning issued by the weather office. The flash floods took us by surprise”.

India’s meteorological department had forecast heavy rain in Kashmir last week, but the Central Water Commission, which issues flood advisories, has been criticized by Indian media for not warning the state.

Some 47,000 people have been evacuated from their homes in India, where 217 were reported dead by Tuesday. The Indian Air Force has air-dropped more than 550 tonnes of relief material, and 80 medical teams have established emergency health services in government schools and state-run health care centers.

The flooding is the first major humanitarian emergency under India’s new prime minister, Narendra Modi, but also comes at a difficult time for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who has faced weeks of street protests aimed at forcing him out.

In Pakistan, the death toll was comparable, with at least 231 people reported dead across the country, including Pakistan’s side of Kashmir.

“With the memory of the catastrophic floods of recent years still fresh, many are wondering why the present calamity was not better predicted, flood warnings were not issued with more urgency, and mitigation measures not undertaken speedily,” Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper said in an editorial.

In Pakistan, people still remember 2010, when the worst floods in generations affected some 20 million people and damage to infrastructure ran into billions of dollars.

LARGE GARRISON

India has hundreds of thousands of soldiers stationed in Kashmir, manning the border and conducting counter-insurgency operations against separatist militants in a decades-old conflict that claimed thousands of lives at its peak but has cooled in recent years.

Soldiers rescued families using boats or airlifted them from rooftops by helicopter after the river Jhelum burst its banks in Srinagar, but many more remained stranded.

“Fortunately, it is not raining in Kashmir today and we are now getting a chance to send our teams across the region to help tens of thousands of people who have been displaced,” Indian Defense Ministry spokesman Sitanshu Kar said.

In Pakistan, at least nine people died and six were injured when the roof of a mosque collapsed after days of heavy rain in the city of Lahore, said a spokesman for the rescue operation there. Sixteen people were still trapped under the debris, he said.

“Rescue workers are trying to recover them,” he said.

Saeed Qureshi, an official at Pakistan’s State Disaster Management Authority, said the volume of rainfall had rendered contingency plans useless.

“Nobody can fight with nature,” Qureshi said. “We had made a contingency plan, identifying vulnerable populations along the banks of rivers and torrents, but rains with unexpected density wreaked havoc on the hilly areas beyond our imagination.”

He said the district of Haveli, which straddles the de facto border between Indian- and Pakistani-controlled Kashmir, had got 400 millimeters (15.75 inches) of rain in a day, which had “no parallel in the past 50 years”.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said this year’s monsoon rains had killed more than 1,000 people in India alone.

When flash floods killed 5,000 people two years ago in the Indian state of Uttarakhand, including many Hindu pilgrims, relief authorities were also criticized for their slow response.

(Additonal reporting by Rupam Jain Nair in NEW DELHI and Mubasher Bukhari in LAHORE; Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Maria Golovnina, Larry King)

Locusts swarm across parts of India, attacking agricultural lands

UNTV News   •   May 26, 2020

Huge swarms of locusts took over the skies of Northern and Central India on Monday (May 25) and Sunday (May 24), affecting agricultural lands.

The pests were mostly seen across large states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan.

On Sunday, actions were taken in the city of Mandsaur, in central India, to contain the swarm by spraying pesticides.

One of the deadliest pests for farms produce, locusts are known to destroy crops and vegetables, and whatever they find in their way, in search of food.

Animals also get affected by eating the same leaves as the locusts and can suffer from diarrhoea.

Locust swarms are not new in East Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. But climate scientists say erratic weather linked to climate change has created ideal conditions for the insects to surge in numbers not seen in a quarter of a century.

If allowed to breed unchecked in favourable conditions, locusts can form huge swarms that can strip trees and crops over vast areas. (Reuters)

(Production: ANI, Hanna Rantala, Gabriela Boccaccio)

Cyclone Amphan tears into India; destroys homes, whips up storm surge

UNTV News   •   May 21, 2020

A powerful cyclone tore into eastern India and Bangladesh on Wednesday (May 20), destroying mud houses and embankments and whipping up a storm surge along the coast, officials said, after millions of people were moved out of its path.

At least one 70-year-old man was killed by a falling tree in Bangladesh’s coastal Bhola district, a police official said. The low-lying country has evacuated 2.4 million people to shelters.

Another 650,000 people have been moved to safety in the eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal, authorities said, an operation carried out amid surging coronavirus infections.

It was too early to estimate a toll on life or damage to property.

Cyclone Amphan began moving inland with winds gusting up to 185 kph, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department, told reporters.

Mohapatra said that the storm surge could rise to around five metres in the Sundarbans delta, home to around four million people and thick mangrove forests that are a critical tiger habitat.

The storm will also sweep past Kolkata, a sprawling city of 4.5 million people, where strong winds uprooted trees and electricity poles, littering several streets, television showed.

A home ministry official said authorities in West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha had struggled to house thousands of evacuees as shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centres.

Extra shelters were being prepared in markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks were being distributed to villagers.

Police in West Bengal said some people were unwilling to go to the shelters because they were afraid of being infected by the coronavirus and many were refusing to leave their livestock. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Mussab Al-Khairalla)

Super cyclone brings heavy rain, tidal waves to eastern India

UNTV News   •   May 20, 2020

Heavy rains and winds lashed two eastern Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal hours before a powerful cyclone made landfall on Wednesday (May 20), with rescue teams evacuating millions of villagers to higher ground in an operation complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The weather department in India said Amphan had slowed and was likely to cross the coast near West Bengal state or Bangladesh around 2:30 p.m. (0900 GMT).

An Indian federal home ministry official said West Bengal and neighbouring Odisha state were struggling to house thousands of evacuees as existing shelters were being used as coronavirus quarantine centers.

Extra shelters were being prepared in wholesale markets and government buildings with allowances made for social distancing, while masks and scarves were being distributed among the villagers. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Brownlie, Tanya Lezaic)

TAGS   , , ,

REACH US

The Philippine Broadcast Hub

UNTV, 915 Barangay Philam,

EDSA, Quezon City M.M. 1104

(+632) 8396-8688 (Tel)

info@untv-newsandrescue.com (General inquiries)

ABOUT UNTV

UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.