Record Rains Kill 25 In Central China

This photo taken on July 20, 2021 shows people wading through flood waters along a street following heavy rains in Zhengzhou in China’s central Henan province.
STR / AFP

 

 

At least 25 people have died after torrential rains caused landslides and flooded a city in central China, with shocking images showing passengers struggling against chest-high water inside a train carriage.

As river embankments were breached in record downpours across Henan province, President Xi Jinping described the situation as “extremely severe” with flood control measures entering a “critical stage”, state media reported Wednesday.

Around 200,000 residents were evacuated in Zhengzhou, local government officials said, as soldiers led rescue efforts in the city of over 10 million people which saw the equivalent of a year’s average rain dumped on it in just three days.

The rainfall in the region was the heaviest since record-keeping began 60 years ago, coming as scientists say climate change is worsening flooding around the world, alongside other increasingly extreme weather patterns.

Rainstorms submerged Zhengzhou’s metro late Tuesday, killing 12 people and injuring five, while city officials said hundreds were rescued from the subway.

Nerve-shredding images shared on social media showed shocked passengers contending with the fast-rising waters inside a train carriage. Rescuers cut open the roof of the coach to pull people to safety, local media reported.

Others showed dramatic rescues of pedestrians in Zhengzhou from torrents gushing through the streets.

At least four were killed in nearby Gongyi city where houses and walls have collapsed, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that rainfall had caused multiple landslides.

Relatives outside Zhengzhou made anxious pleas on China’s Weibo for information as communications to the city went down.

“Is the second floor in danger? My parents live there, but I can’t get through to them on the phone,” one user wrote.

“I don’t know more about their situation. I’m in Tianjin and my parents are in Zhengzhou,” she said, giving her surname only as Hou when contacted by AFP.

“I’m very anxious.”

– Army sent –
Authorities have issued the highest warning level for Henan province as floods continue to hammer the region, with landslides blocking many roads, villages evacuated, tourist sites closed and large areas left without communication.

The body for cultural heritage warned some key heritage sites had suffered water damage, including the Shaolin temple — a famous monastery and school for martial arts — and the Longmen Grottoes, a UNESCO heritage site of stone Buddhist carvings dating back to the fifth century.

Henan is the birthplace of traditional Chinese martial arts, and home to many kung fu academies.

The statement said “key protected cultural relics suffered varying degrees of water damage,” but said that they were now safe without providing precise details.

As the scale of the disaster continued to unspool and the damage ran into tens of millions of dollars, the Chinese army said it had averted the collapse of the stricken Yihetan dam around an hour from Zhengzhou city.

On Wednesday morning, the People’s Liberation Army said blasting operations had been carried out at the dam and troops had “successfully opened a new flood diversion opening”.

These measures meant the water level had dropped and the “danger has been effectively controlled”.

Thousands of soldiers have been deployed to other rivers nearby to reinforce embankments with sandbags as the floods fanned out across Henan and warnings were issued for other near breaches of dams.

“Some reservoirs had their dams burst… causing serious injury, loss of life and property damage,” Xi Jinping said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

“We have already entered the critical stage of flood control, leaders and cadres from all walks of life must… take the lead in commanding, quickly organise forces for flood protection and disaster rescue.”

Annual floods during China’s rainy season cause chaos and wash away roads, crops and houses.

But the threat has worsened over the decades, due in part to widespread construction of dams and levees that have cut connections between the river and adjacent lakes and disrupted floodplains that had helped absorb the summer surge.

Germany Questions Warning System After Deadly Floods

TOPSHOT – An aerial view shows the damaged village of Iversheim in western Germany, on July 18, 2021. – The death toll from devastating floods has risen to 156 in Germany, police said July 18, bringing the total to at least 183 fatalities from the disaster in western Europe. (Photo by SEBASTIEN BOZON / AFP)

 

As Germany mourns more than 150 people who died in floods and begins a mammoth clean-up task, questions are mounting about whether the country’s weather warning system failed to keep citizens safe.

Although meteorological services had forecast torrential rain and flash floods for western Germany last week, many residents said they were caught off-guard by rapidly rising waters that destroyed roads, bridges and homes.

“We shouldn’t be mourning this many fatalities in 2021,” Hannah Cloke, a professor of hydrology at Reading University, told German broadcaster ZDF.

There had been “breaks in the warning chain” somewhere along the way, she said, and messages to evacuate or shelter in place on higher floors did not get through to enough people.

Under Germany’s federal system, it is up to the 16 regional states to organise responses to flood alerts and coordinate efforts with the civil protection office and the fire brigade.

Many local authorities use sirens, loudspeaker announcements or radio and TV bulletins to warn residents of acute danger or issue evacuation orders.

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There are also smartphone apps to keep users up to date on extreme weather in their area.

But Bild newspaper condemned the “failure” to take early action in the battered states of Rhineland-Palatinate and North-Rhine Westphalia.

“The sirens stayed quiet in plenty of places, very few alerts were issued,” it wrote, labelling the deadly flooding that followed “a disaster for civil protection, one of the state’s most essential jobs”.

– ‘Too late’ –

Gregor Degen, a baker in the town of Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler in Rhineland-Palatinate, where the swollen Ahr river did some of the biggest damage, was among those caught by surprise last Wednesday evening.

“We’d heard weather reports of heavy rainfall and seen the odd picture of a flooded street in the region, but no one could imagine anything like this,” he told AFP.

“I saw a short alert but by then it was too late,” he said, recalling water quickly rising to a level of 2.5 metres (eight feet) in his home. “There was nothing you could do.”

Malu Dreyer, the state premier of Rhineland-Palatinate, surveyed the devastation in the nearby town of Schuld on Sunday and insisted that communities had heeded the weather warnings and “had all activated their flood defence systems”, including sirens in certain areas.

But she acknowledged that downed power lines and mobile phone outages had complicated efforts to reach everyone.

Gerd Landsberg, head of the German Association of Towns and Municipalities, called for an overhaul of the early warning system.

“People had the impression that it was just heavy rain, the dramatic scale of it was not clearly communicated,” he told the Funke newspaper group.

He called for more staff and more competencies for the Federal Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Assistance (BKK), and said the siren system should be used more widely so people can receive messages even when the electricity is out.

Minister for Research Anja Karliczek said Germany must prepare better for natural disasters, expected to become more frequent because of climate change.

“One of the lessons of this catastrophe in western Germany is that we must improve our research into these extreme weather episodes in the next few years,” she said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited the flood zone in Rhineland-Palatinate on Sunday, said lessons should be learnt but cautioned against overly high expectations.

“Of course we ask ourselves what can be done better?” she said. “But in some situations things happen so quickly that you can’t fully escape the force of nature.”

AFP

Merkel To Visit Flood-Ravaged Western Germany 

A man stands in front of a destroyed house after floods caused major damage in Schuld near Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler, western Germany, on July 17, 2021. PHOTO: CHRISTOF STACHE / AFP

 

Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit flood-ravaged western Germany on Sunday, where the worst rainfall in living memory has caused huge destruction and left more than 130 people dead, regional officials said.

Merkel will travel to the hard-hit town of Schuld in Rhineland-Palatinate state, a spokeswoman for the regional interior ministry told AFP on Saturday, confirming earlier media reports.

The visit is set to take place in the afternoon, the spokeswoman said.

Merkel has called the flooding a national “tragedy” and promised support from the federal government to help the affected areas rebuild and recover.

READ ALSO: Europe Reels From Worst Floods In Years As Death Toll Nears 130

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier toured the town of Erftstadt in the western state of North-Rhine Westphalia on Saturday, to survey the damage from a massive landslide caused by the extreme weather.

The main candidates in the race to succeed Merkel at September’s general election have all travelled to the stricken areas in recent days.

Merkel’s visit has been delayed because she only returned on Friday from a high-profile trip to Washington, her last official visit as chancellor.

Speaking alongside US President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, Merkel said her “heart goes out to all of those who in this catastrophe lost their loved ones”.

AFP

Emergency Declared As New Zealand Floods Threaten Thousands Of Homes

New Zealand map.

 

New Zealand authorities declared a state of emergency in the province of Canterbury Sunday, as the region was pounded by heavy rain that could force thousands of people to abandon their homes.

Acting Emergency Management Minister Kris Faafoi, who visited the hardest-hit southern parts of the area, said about 3,000 homes were at risk and the army had been mobilised to assist with evacuations if necessary.

“The rain is going to stick around until at least tomorrow. It will be heavy and the authorities will be watching those river levels tonight,” Faafoi said.

The New Zealand Meteorological Service has issued a rare “red” warning for the area, with up to 300 millimetres (11.8 inches) of rain expected to fall in inland areas.

In coastal Christchurch, the main city in Canterbury, forecasters expected about 100 mm to fall, well above the monthly total average for May.

READ ALSO: Nearly 300 Rescued In Indonesia Ferry Accident

Canterbury Civil Defence emergency management group controller Neville Reilly told the New Zealand Herald that the state of emergency was declared because authorities could not afford to take chances.

“There’s a lot of contingency planning going on so that if something untoward should happen we are in a position to get people out and give them somewhere to go,” he said.

“Really we’re just holding our breath overnight.”

Neil Brown, the mayor of Ashburton, said about 4,000 people in the town could be forced to evacuate if the Ashburton River breaks its banks.

AFP

Rescuers Work To Free 21 Trapped In Flooded China Mine

A picture of the Chinese flag.
A picture of the Chinese flag.

 

Rescuers were working on Sunday to reach 21 workers trapped in a coal mine in northwest China’s Xinjiang region after flooding cut power underground and disrupted communications, state media reported.

The accident happened in Fengyuan coal mine in Hutubi County on Saturday evening, when staff were carrying out upgrading works at the site, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Eight of the 29 workers who were at the scene have been rescued from the mine, according to preliminary reports.

Rescuers have located the miners, with 12 on one platform, eight on a second platform, and the last worker in an escape route where water had entered, broadcaster CCTV reported.

“The working platform with 12 people is 1,200 metres (3,900 feet) from ground level and the underground terrain is complex, making rescue difficult,” CCTV said.

Rescuers were also trying to pump water from the flooded shaft and have been piping air into the mine. Pumping equipment was being installed.

Mining accidents are common in China, where the industry has a poor safety record and regulations are often weakly enforced.

In January, 22 workers were trapped in a mine in east China’s Shandong province after an explosion damaged the entrance, leaving workers stuck underground for about two weeks.

Eleven men were pulled out alive, 10 died and one miner remained unaccounted for.

In December, 23 miners died after being trapped underground in the southwest city of Chongqing — just months after 16 others died from carbon monoxide poisoning at another coal mine in the city.

Time Running Out For Indian Workers Trapped Since Glacier Disaster

Rescue teams gather near the entrance of a tunnel blocked with mud and debris, where workers are trapped, in Tapovan of Chamoli district on February 9, 2021 following a flash flood thought to have been caused when a glacier burst on February 7. Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP
Rescue teams gather near the entrance of a tunnel blocked with mud and debris, where workers are trapped, in Tapovan of Chamoli district on February 9, 2021 following a flash flood thought to have been caused when a glacier burst on February 7. Sajjad HUSSAIN / AFP

 

Time was running out to save dozens of people trapped inside a tunnel three days after a devastating flash flood likely caused by a glacier burst in India’s Himalayan north, officials said Wednesday.

More than 170 people were still missing after a barrage of water and debris hurtled with terrifying speed and power down a valley on Sunday morning, sweeping away bridges and roads and hitting two hydroelectric plants.

Thirty-two bodies have been found so far, officials said on Wednesday. It may take days for more bodies to be recovered under the tonnes of rocks and other debris and the thick blanket of grey mud.

Twenty-five of the bodies were yet to be identified. Many of the victims are poor workers from hundreds of miles away in other parts of India whose whereabouts at the time of the disaster may not be known.

The main focus of the massive rescue operation, underway day and night since Sunday, is a tunnel near a severely damaged hydroelectric plant that was under construction at Tapovan in Uttarakhand state.

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Workers there have been battling their way through hundreds of tonnes of sludge, boulders, and other obstacles to try and reach 34 people who rescuers hope are alive in air pockets.

“As time passes, the chances of finding them are reducing. But miracles do happen,” Piyoosh Rautela, a senior state disaster relief official told AFP.

“There’s only so much that one can do. We can’t push in multiple bulldozers together. We are working round the clock — man, the machinery we are all working round the clock. But the amount of debris is so much that it’s going to take a while to remove all that,” he said.

Vivek Pandey, a spokesman for the border police told the Times of India that if the 34 are alive, the biggest concern is hypothermia, “which can be fatal in such conditions”.

Outside the tunnel, there were medical teams on standby with oxygen cylinders and stretchers, as well as anxious relatives.

Shuhil Dhiman, 47, said that his brother-in-law Praveen Diwan, a private contractor, and father of three, had driven into the tunnel on Sunday morning with three others when the flood-hit.

“We don’t know what happened to him. We went near the tunnel but there are tonnes of slush coming out. The tunnel has a sharp slope from the opening and I think water and slush have gone deep inside,” Shuhil Dhiman told AFP.

“I am hoping against hope,” he said. “The authorities are doing their best but the situation is beyond anyone’s ability.”

The disaster has been blamed on rapidly melting glaciers in the Himalayan region caused by global warming.

Building activity for dams, the dredging of riverbeds for sand, and the clearing of trees for new roads — some to beef up defence on the Chinese border — are other factors.

AFP

Jigawa Governor Commiserates With Flood Victims, Commissions Road Projects

In this photo taken on April 15, 2020, Jigawa State Governor  Badaru Abubakar

 

 

Governor of Jigawa State, Badaru Abubakar had Commiserated with victims who lost their farmlands to flood in 2020.

The Governor made the statement at the commissioning of some road projects in Dutse the state capital of Jigawa.

According to him, the state has never experienced such kind of devastating flood.

In November 2020, dozens of residents in the state were left homeless which led to an increase in Malaria.

The chairman of the Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation, and Nutrition (ACOMIN) in Jigawa, Baba Ali, confirmed this to Channels Television.

Ali, who is from one of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) worst affected by the flood, decried that hospitals have become congested and people were unaware of measures to prevent themselves from becoming victims of the disease.

“From August this year, Jigawa State began experiencing flood and this displaced so many people, especially around the Hadejia axis; this exposed them to mosquito bites and this is why we are having so many congestions in the hospital,“ Ali said.

He added, “It is in line with this that our organisation is working with the community members to enlighten the general public on how to prevent themselves from mosquito bites and also to access the free malaria control facility provided in the state.”

On his part, the programme manager of (ACOMIN), Auwal Ibrahim, believes residents must own the activities of malaria control in the environment.

He said, “In one community in Auyo LGA, the people contributed money and built a temporary toilet for their health facility.

“In another community at Jahun LGA, the people came together, working as a group to clear grasses and level the ground in front of their facility.”

The Director of Public Health in Jigawa, Dr. Umar Balangu, who also confirmed the situation, said the state government was doing everything in its power to contain the situation.

Malaria Cases Rise In Jigawa After Flood Hits 17 LGAs

Zika, w.h.o
A file photo of a mosquito.

 

Malaria cases in Jigawa State have risen as a result of the flood that killed dozens of people and left thousands homeless.

The chairman of the Civil Society in Malaria Control, Immunisation and Nutrition (ACOMIN) in Jigawa, Baba Ali, confirmed this to Channels Television on Saturday.

Ali, who is from one of the Local Government Areas (LGAs) worst affected by the flood, decried that hospitals have become congested and people were unaware of measures to prevent themselves from becoming victims of the disease.

“From August this year, Jigawa State began experiencing flood and this displaced so many people, especially around the Hadejia axis; this exposed them to mosquito bites and this is why we are having so many congestions in the hospital,“ Ali said.

He added, “It is in line with this that our organisation is working with the community members to enlighten the general public on how to prevent themselves from mosquito bites and also to access the free malaria control facility provided in the state.”

On his part, the programme manager of (ACOMIN), Auwal Ibrahim, believes residents must own the activities of malaria control in the environment.

He said, “In one community in Auyo LGA, the people contributed money and built a temporary toilet for their health facility.

“In another community at Jahun LGA, the people came together, working as a group to clear grasses and level the ground in front of their facility.”

The Director of Public Health in Jigawa, Dr Umar Balangu, who also confirmed the situation, said the state government was doing everything in its power to contain the situation.

He noted that mosquito nets were distributed in some communities, as well as fumigation exercise.

According to Balangu, the government is also providing free medical treatment for women and under-five children in the state.

He stated that this has gone a long way in controlling the recent increase in the cases of malaria in Jigawa.

The Nigerian Metrological Agency had predicted the possibility of flood in 12 LGAs in Jigawa, but at least 17 LGAs were affected.

A total of 41 lives were lost to floods and over 10,000 people were displaced.

Four Children Drown In Jigawa Village

A file photo of a Jigawa map.
A file photo of a Jigawa map.

 

Four children on Tuesday got drowned while trying to cross a stream on their way back from their farm in Kafin Doki of Sara Town in Gwaram Local Government Area of Jigawa State.

The Police Public Relations Officer, Abdu Jinjiri, who confirmed the incident to Channels Television, said so far three bodies have been recovered while one is still under search.

“Bilkisu Haruna aged 17, Shamsiyya Nuhu aged 13, Maryam Danlami aged 12, and Marakisiyya Musa drowned while trying to crossing a stream on their way back from the farm,” he said.

“We were able to recover three bodies while that of Marakisiyya is still under search.”

Jigawa State has been experiencing serious flood lately which has led to the death of 41 people while over 10,000 families are displaced.

Jigawa Flood: Death Toll Rises To 40 As IDPs Seek Better Shelter

File Photo showing a flooded community in Jigawa State.

 

The death toll in Jigawa State following the recent floodings has risen to 40 as River Hadejia has overflown its bank to communities.

Multiple houses have been destroyed forcing residents to seek alternative shelters elsewhere.

The chairman of the State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA), Yusuf Sani, confirmed this on Tuesday.

“The flood is getting worse by the day. It has now reached Hadejia area and has forced many people out of their homes. Many of them are now living in schools and other alternative shelters they can find,” Sani said.

“The last time I spoke to you, I told you that 33 people have died, but as I’m talking to you now 7 more people have died, including children.”

On his part, Governor Badaru Abubakar said the state government has moved to providing medical help for the flood victims.

He also reiterated the commitment of his administration in ensuring that the people affected by the flood are well fed.

“We have instructed the ministry of education to move all the displaced people to school buildings. We have also directed the ministry of health to stationed health personnel in the camps to provide medical help.

“We would also distribute food items and would try and facilitate the cooking of food in the camps to ensure they are well fed,” the governor said.

Meanwhile, the Internally Displaced Persons have called on the state government to provide them with better shelter.

Flood Hits More Communities In Niger State

Scenes from communities hit by a flood in Niger State.

 

Barely three days after the Niger State Government disclosed that over one hundred communities have been affected by a flood, at least fifteen new communities have been hit by a fresh flood in the Lapai local government area of the state.

The communities include Egba, Achiba, Apataku, Ebwa, Arah, Adunbenku, Old Muye, Reba, Sokun, Edda, Pele, Dere, Eshi, and Yawa.

Several houses have been flooded and farmlands washed away.

An eyewitness Alhaji Zubairu Musa who sent video clips and pictures of the situation to Channels Television Correspondent in Niger State said a lot of properties have also been destroyed.

“Many houses and farmlands have been submerged, destroyed and a lot of properties have been lost so far.

“Some people have been evacuated to a safe place for the safety of their lives,” Musa said in the text accompanying the clips he sent to us.

In the video clips, residents of the Egba community are seen on canoes, making frantic efforts to rescue their children and whatever they could rescue.

A woman by name Maryam Egba said they were asleep at the time the flood happened.

“We were asleep when it all happened. I woke up and found that the water flooded our rooms. There is no place for us to sleep,” Maryam said.

Another woman, Kulu Abdulrahman lamented that they were hungry as the flood had washed away their foodstuff.

“We don’t have what to eat. It’s really a trying moment for us. We appeal to both federal government to come to our aid,” Abdulrahman cried out.

Most riverine communities in Niger State are affected by flooding annually.

Many have attributed the challenge to the presence of three hydroelectric dams in the state, namely, Jebba Dam, Kainji Dam, Tagwai Dam, and the fourth one under construction at Zungeru in Wushishi local government area.

The state Emergency Management Agency has also announced that a more severe type of flooding experience, “Black Flood” could occur still in this year.

According to the Director-General of the agency, Ahmed Inga, neighbouring countries such as Benin, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon may release water from their dams, and Niger State sitting along the River Niger could be badly affected.

The Deputy Governor of the State, Ahmed Ketso during the visit of a team from the National Emergency Management Agency to his office on Thursday had appealed to the Federal government to help in the construction of houses at some of the relocation sites that the state government had secured for the relocation of communities around the riverine areas so as to mitigate losses whenever there is a flood.

He also reiterated the need for the government to support the rural farmers with inputs to enable them to embark on dry season farming which will help them carry on their age-long profession even after they have relocated.

Around 50 Feared Dead In DR Congo Mine Flooding

Hundreds of people gather in Kamituga, South Kivu, on September 12, 2020, at the entrance of one of the mines where dozens of Congolese artisanal miners are feared to be killed after heavy rain filled the mine tunnels. STRINGER / AFP

 

About 50 people are feared dead after an artisanal gold mine flooded in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rain, a provincial governor said Saturday.

The accident in the makeshift mine occurred on Friday in the town of Kamituga, in South Kivu province, about 270 kilometres (170 miles) southwest of the regional capital Bukavu.

DR Congo’s mineral-rich but volatile east faces regular attacks from a plethora of militias and rebel groups which operate freely in the region.

South Kivu governor Theo Ngwabidje Kasi deplored “the tragic deaths of 50 people, most of them young”.

However, Kamituga mayor Alexandre Bundya said “we are not yet sure of the exact number” of victims.

No bodies had been recovered so far, he said, adding that “19 families have come to look for their relatives”.

 

DR Congo President Felix Tshisekedi said he was “deeply saddened” and asked the government to “take strong measures so that such tragedies are not repeated.”

A local resident at the scene, Jean Nondo Mukambilwa, told AFP that only one body had been found so far.

Torrential rain had flooded a river close to the mine, and dismissed an earlier report that the mine had caved in, he said.

“It was not a collapse. It was because of the rains that the accident happened,” he explained.

“Water went into the three tunnels. When people tried to get out, there was no way as the water was flowing strongly, with high pressure.”

Hundreds of people gathered at the entrance to one of the tunnels, a video sent to AFP by the witness showed.

Men using shovels were trying to clear the entrance to the narrow passageway, as Red Cross workers stood waiting.

The mayor decreed two days of mourning and called on locals to help extract the bodies from the ground.

“Investigations must be carried out to find out the causes of this disaster,” said a representative of civil society, Nicolas Kyalangalilwa.

“The authorities must take responsibility instead of taxing” these miners.

Accidents in DR Congo’s makeshift mines are common and often deadly.

– Illegal mining rampant –

In June 2019, at least 39 men died when a copper mine in Kolwezi, in the southeastern Katanga region, partially collapsed.

Because many such mines are in remote areas however, the accidents are under-reported. DR Congo has huge reserves of gold, cobalt, copper and coltan.

It is the world’s largest producer of cobalt, crucial for making the batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles.

The illegal miners sell what they find to local traders, who sell it on to large foreign companies and are usually paid a pittance.

Mining hardly benefits DR Congo’s more than 80 million people. The World Bank said in 2018 that 72 percent of the population lived on less than 1.9 dollars a day.

Most Congolese earn their living in informal economic sectors such as makeshift mining.

According to a report by London-based specialist firm Darton, up to 16 percent of the cobalt extracted in the mineral-rich Katanga province came from illegal miners.