The number of deaths from a powerful storm that hit the Philippines on Christmas has climbed to 41, authorities said Sunday, with tens of thousands still in evacuation centres.
Typhoon Phanfone left the Philippines on Saturday after devastating several islands in the central Visayas, including popular tourist destinations, but the extent of the damage continued to grow as assessments came in.
The death toll of 41 — up from 28 on Friday — included three boat crew who died after their vessel capsized due to strong winds, a policeman electrocuted by a toppled post, and a man struck by a felled tree.
“We’re hoping that there will be no more fatalities,” national disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal told AFP, with authorities still searching for 12 people missing.
Mark Timbal, a spokesman for the national disaster agency, said no new bodies have been found but the death toll could rise as reports on the ground are verified.
“There is the possibility of an increase in the number, but we are hoping against it,” Timbal told AFP.
Hundreds of thousands of people living in exposed or low-lying areas were evacuated from their homes before Kammuri made landfall late Monday, which authorities said had saved lives.
Still the storm-damaged 135 schools and destroyed nearly 1,200 homes, with crop damage in the hardest-hit areas estimated to reach nearly $16 million.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to visit on Thursday the Bicol region, a peninsula south of Manila which was hit hard by the typhoon.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport was closed half of Tuesday as a precaution, affecting over 500 flights, while roughly half the day’s programme at the Southeast Asian Games, hosted by Manila and nearby cities, had to be postponed.
A wall collapsed and killed at least 22 people in Mumbai on Tuesday as the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade brought chaos to India’s financial capital and surrounding areas.
Scores more were injured when the structure came down at nighttime in a slum, said Tanaji Kamble, a disaster management spokesman for Mumbai’s local authority.
By late Tuesday one more person had succumbed to injuries, increasing the previous death toll of 21, the Press Trust of India reported.
The tragedy came during heavy rains which lashed the teeming coastal city of 20 million residents for a second consecutive day, bringing it to a virtual standstill.
Authorities declared Tuesday a public holiday and advised all residents to stay indoors. Schools and colleges were closed while more than 100 flights were either cancelled or diverted from Mumbai airport.
The airport’s main runway was shut after a SpiceJet plane carrying 167 passengers and crew overshot it shortly before midnight Monday.
“Currently secondary runway is in use, our team is trying their best to bring the main runway back in operation and this may take up to 48 hrs,” the airport tweeted.
According to Skymet Weather, a private weather-tracking agency, large swathes of Mumbai received around 350 millimetres (13 inches) of rain overnight into Tuesday morning, the most in a decade.
The deluge left low-lying areas submerged.
“Everything around us is flooded. It’s scary and the problem persists every year despite government promises,” Vishal Agawane, a 32-year-old resident of the Dharavi slum, told AFP.
Around 1,000 people living close to the city’s Mithi river were evacuated to higher ground as it threatened to burst its banks, said Kamble, the disaster management spokesman.
Waterlogged tracks disrupted train services on Mumbai’s colonial-era rail network, a lifeline for the city’s population, while motorists were seen pushing cars through flooded streets.
Rescuers sifted through the debris of the collapsed wall in Mumbai’s north, hoping to find more survivors.
‘Begging for water’
The dead included a 10-year-old girl, who was trapped alive under the debris for hours before rescuers pulled out her body in a 12-hour unsuccessful operation.
A local rescue volunteer earlier in the day told the NDTV channel that they heard the girl crying in pain and begging for water.
Building collapses are common during the monsoon, when dilapidated structures buckle under the weight of continuous rain.
Three people, including a toddler, were also killed Tuesday in Thane district, which borders Mumbai, when a wall collapsed at a school.
Two waiters were electrocuted after rainwater gushed into a restaurant and came in contact with a live wire in Thane. Another person was critically injured.
And six labourers died near the western city of Pune, 150 kilometres (around 100 miles) from Mumbai, when a wall fell onto their makeshift shacks. At least 15 labourers died in a similar accident on Saturday.
Mumbai’s streets regularly flood during the monsoon, which runs from June until September or October, and which provides India with most of its annual rainfall.
In 2005, 950 millimetres (37 inches) of rain fell on the coastal metropolis in just 24 hours, killing more than 500 people.
At least 10 people died in August 2017, when intense rainfall brought the commercial hub to a virtual standstill for two days.
Activists say Mumbai’s susceptibility to floods has worsened in recent years due to a construction boom that is trying to keep up with the city’s swelling population.
Much of Mumbai’s mangrove cover, which helps drain water, has been destroyed over the past decade to make way for glitzy highrises.
According to various studies, anywhere between 40 to 50 percent of the city’s population live in slums, which become a sea of blue tarpaulin every monsoon as residents try to keep out the rain.
Eight people were killed and at least 15 were missing on Wednesday after the heaviest monsoon rains in a decade breached a dam in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, authorities said.
In the state capital Mumbai, the death toll from a wall collapse in a slum on Tuesday following the torrential downpour reached 24, with more rain expected in coming days.
Heavy rain continued to lash the coastal city of 20 million people Wednesday, bringing it to a virtual standstill as flooding cut train lines, closed the airport’s main runway and caused traffic misery.
Building collapses and dam breaches are common during the monsoon in India due to dilapidated structures that buckle under the weight of continuous rain.
India’s National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) told AFP they were using drones over the area flooded by the breach of Tiware dam, around 275 kilometres (170 miles) from Mumbai.
The toll from a dam collapse at a mine in southeast Brazil has risen to 134 deaths after more than a week of searches, with 199 missing, authorities said Monday.
The count showed the gradual recovery operation of bodies more than a week after the January 25 disaster at the dam, owned by Brazilian mining giant Vale, near the town of Brumadinho.
Those listed as missing are presumed dead, but not yet located under the layers of muddy mining waste released when the tailings dam broke apart. Almost all the victims were workers at the mine.
A fire services spokesman said it was possible that not all the bodies would be located and recovered.
“After a while, because of the decomposition of the bodies, it becomes impossible to recover the remains. But until that moment comes, even if we have to stay four, five or six months, the fire offices will work without stopping,” he said.
The disaster occurred three years after a similar dam collapse tragedy at another mine in the same region which was part-owned by Vale.
That 2015 incident, close to the town of Mariana, had a lower death toll of 19, but was considered Brazil’s worst environmental disaster because the mining waste released ravaged whole ecosystems along hundreds of miles (kilometers) of waterways.
President Jair Bolsonaro, in a statement read to Congress as he recovered in hospital from abdominal surgery, said excessive regulation of Brazil’s mining industry was partly to blame for the Brumadinho dam collapse.
“The government has dozens of overlapping monitoring structures which stop people producing but didn’t prevent the Brumadinho tragedy,” he said.
“It’s not with bigger government that we are going to solve these problems, but with more efficient government,” he said.
Nine people were killed and hundreds of thousands ordered to evacuate as wildfires raged Saturday across California, with one rapidly spreading blaze threatening the resort of Malibu, home to Hollywood stars.
The fatalities were reported in a massive late-season inferno in the town of Paradise, in Butte County north of the state capital Sacramento, where some 6,700 structures went up in flames – officially becoming California’s most destructive fire on record.
The fast-moving blaze, which authorities have named the “Camp Fire”, broke out Thursday morning. Fanned by strong winds, it has scorched 90,000 acres (36,400 hectares) and is only five per cent contained, the California Fire Department (Cal Fire)said late Friday.
Other large fires raged in southern California, including one just north of Los Angeles and another in Ventura County near Thousand Oaks, where a Marine Corps veteran shot dead 12 people in a country music bar on Wednesday night.
“The magnitude of destruction we have seen is really unbelievable and heartbreaking and our hearts go to everybody who has been affected by this,” said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services.
Governor-elect Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency to provide assistance to the fire-hit areas.
Butte County Sheriff Korey Honea said late Friday it was his “sad duty” to update the Camp Fire death toll to nine.
“I don’t have all of the details because we have investigators out on the field” trying to reach the locations where casualties were reported, Honea told reporters.
But he did say that four people were found inside a vehicle in the Paradise area, while another was found nearby. Three more were found outside a residence, and one inside a house. Officials earlier said that five people had died in vehicles overcome by the fire.
Dozens of other people were reported missing.
Residents who escaped Paradise posted harrowing videos to social media as they drove through tunnels of swirling smoke and orange flames to outrun the wildfire.
The flames destroyed hundreds of homes, a hospital, a gas station, several restaurants and numerous vehicles, officials said.
Mandatory evacuation orders were issued for more than 52,000 people in the scenic area in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
“The whole lower side of Paradise is totally engulfed in flames right now,” Kevin Winstead, a resident of nearby Magalia, told KIEM TV. “All of it is engulfed in flames right now.
“Not one home will be left standing,” he said. “I’m devastated.”
“We’re just hoping that our brand new home that we were hoping to move into tomorrow is not burned to the ground,” Winstead said.
California has endured abnormally dry weather for years. Much of the south, including the Los Angeles area, is experiencing drought conditions according to official data.
President Donald Trump showed no sympathy for the famously liberal state. “There is no reason for these massive, deadly and costly forest fires in California except that forest management is so poor,” Trump tweeted on Saturday.
“Billions of dollars are given each year, with so many lives lost, all because of gross mismanagement of the forests. Remedy now, or no more Fed payments!”
I pray everyone is safe
In southern California, authorities said some 200,000 people are under evacuation orders.
The Ventura County Fire Department said the “Woolsey Fire” had burned around 35,000 acres, was not contained, and that evacuation orders were issued for some 88,000 homes in the county and neighboring Los Angeles County.
Out of control wind-driven flames triggered mandatory evacuations, including for the entire city of Malibu.
The wildfire destroyed Paramount Ranch, a movie set for cowboy shows including HBO’S Westworld, officials said.
Cal Fire posted footage taken from helicopters that showed flames racing over hill ridges towards multi-million dollar mansions.
“We heard this was coming so we set up on the sprinklers and we hosed the whole house down,” said Patrick Henry, a Malibu resident. “We pretty much had enough time to get the dogs in the trunk.”
Malibu is one of the most in-demand locations in California for Hollywood stars seeking privacy and luxury, and has been home to Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, Charlize Theron, Brad Pitt and a host of other celebrities.
Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West, who lives just north of coastal Malibu in Calabasas, revealed on Instagram that she was forced to flee her home.
“Just landed back home and had 1 hour to pack up & evacuate our home. I pray everyone is safe,” she said.
TV star Charlie Sheen tweeted that his father, Martin Sheen, and his mother Janet were both missing – but the pair surfaced unharmed hours later at a beachside evacuation spot.
“We’re fine, we’re at Zuma Beach and we’re probably going to sleep in the car tonight,” Martin Sheen told Fox News 11, addressing his adult children.
Sheen said this was the worst fire he had seen in 48 years of living in Malibu.
Japan has reopened three beaches in regions devastated by the 2011 tsunami and resulting Fukushima nuclear disaster after years of reconstruction efforts, officials said Monday.
Local officials in Fukushima said they hoped the opening of the Haragamaobama beach would help change perceptions of the region, which has become inextricably linked with the 2011 disaster.
One of the reopened waterfronts is Haragamaobama beach in Fukushima prefecture, about 40 kilometres north of the crippled Daiichi nuclear plant.
The beach in the city of Soma is the closest to the plant of four beaches that the prefecture has reopened.
“I’m delighted because life in Soma had always been associated with the sea before the disaster,” Hiroyuki Ito, secretary general of the Soma Tourism Association, told AFP.
Water quality inspection has not detected radioactive materials in the offshore seawater for years, and reopening the beach was only delayed while infrastructure for bathers was being built, he said.
“I used to play on the beach as a child every day… but I couldn’t let my daughter have the same experience, as she was a sixth grader” when the disaster hit the region, he said.
“Even now, if you Google search images for ‘Fukushima’, the top search result shows a lot of photos of the nuclear plant and other negative images… but our everyday lives here are returning back to normal,” he said.
“We want people in foreign countries to know that Soma is a place to visit,” he said, noting that the association uploaded the image of the opening of the beach Saturday on its Twitter account @somakankokyokai.
Two other beaches affected by the devastating tsunami in Miyagi prefecture, north of Fukushima, also reopened this weekend, Miyagi officials said.
Beaches on Japan’s northern Pacific coast have been gradually reopening after the construction of huge dikes to prevent future tsunami damage and the restoration of sand that was washed away in the 2011 disaster.
On March 11, 2011, a devastating 9.1-magnitude quake struck under the Pacific Ocean, and the resulting tsunami caused widespread damage and claimed thousands of lives.
It also sent three reactors into meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant, causing Japan’s worst postwar disaster and the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986.
No one died from radiation but tens of thousands of people were forced to evacuate their homes near the plant.
Many are still living in other parts of Japan, unable or unwilling to go back home.
At least five students were killed and twelve others were reported missing on Sunday after a bridge collapsed at a tourist site in Pakistani Kashmir, officials said, adding there was little hope of finding survivors.
The bridge, which overlooked a ravine in mountainous Neelum district, collapsed after some three dozen university students walked across it to view a waterfall.
“We have recovered four bodies of boys and one of a girl. Twelve others are still missing and we don’t have any hope about them (surviving) because the water is very cold”, said Chaudhary Imtiaz, a senior government official in Kashmir’s capital Muzaffarabad.
Imtiaz told AFP eight other students were injured in the accident.
Local police official Saleem Durrani confirmed the toll and said that the authorities had posted a warning near the bridge, telling visitors to walk across it in small numbers because it was only designed to accommodate five people at a time.
“The bridge collapsed because around 40 people climbed it… at the same time,” Durrani said.
“Its cemented foundation could not sustain the weight”, he added.
The scenic Himalayan region is a popular tourist destination but lacks infrastructure.
Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim the territory in full.
Kwara State government has commenced an advocacy visit to flood-prone areas to sensitize the people so as to vacate river banks, in a bid to avert the reoccurrence of the flood disaster last year.
The advocacy visit which commenced at Shonga in Edu local government area of the state was led by the chairman of the state committee on flood disaster and rehabilitation, Alhaji Mohammed Dabarako.
The committee was received at the palace of the Emir of Shonga; Dr. Yahaya Haliru and village heads of all the flood prone areas in the town.
Dabarako who is also the State Head of Service while addressing the people at the palace of the monarch stressed the need for residents in river banks to vacate their domain for uplands before heavy rains set in.
He said the Federal Government has pledged provision of building materials to the state to cater for any damaged buildings during the year.
He said the state government is fully ready to put in place relocation centres in all flood prone areas of the state to a more conducive and safer environment.
Responding, the Emir of Shonga described the havoc of the 2012 flood disaster in his domain as devastating as he thanked both the State and the Federal Government for providing immediate succour to 2012 flood victims in the area.
The traditional ruler who urged the state government to put in place relocation centres pledged to prevail on his subjects to vacate river banks.
The committee distributed leaflets and hand bills to several residents in Shonga on the need to vacate river banks and is expected to continue the advocacy visits to other local government areas affected by 2012 flood including the management of Kainji and Jebba dams.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has issued fresh flooding alert following the announcement by Nigeria Metrological Agency (NIMET) in its seasonal rainfall prediction that there will be another flooding this year. Addressing a news conference in Abuja, the Director General of NEMA, Muhammed Sani Sidi said the agency spent N1.3 billion to provide relief and manage flood disaster in the country in 2012.
Mr Sidi urged state governments to quickly evacuate people living along the floodplains to reduce the risk of flooding this year.
This was in response to the complaints of many of the rural dwellers who are most vulnerable, that unless they are relocated, they have nowhere to go.
He also listed the communities that would be vulnerable to flooding this year according to the findings of NIMET.
The states include Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara in the North West while the entire South-South and Southwest zones will be affected.
NIMET had last month predicted normal rainfall in Nigeria during the year except in Sokoto, Kebbi, Niger and Kwara states, which might experience excessive rainfall.
The agency had also predicted that rainfall pattern in most parts of Nigeria was likely to be similar to that of 2012.
An Environmentalist, Idowu Salami on Wednesday recommended that the Federal Government should review the design of the variouse dams in Nigeria and identify areas where buffers can be constructed.
Mr Salami, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily said the recent flooding in Kogi state and other parts of Nigeria was a result of heavy rainfall as well as the release of water from some hydroelectricity dams.
In the video below, the environmentalist offered several other solution that can help prevent devastating floods.