France, Italy Step Up Rescue Efforts After Floods

Emergency personnel attempt to remove fallen trees from a bridge in Breil-sur-Roya, south-eastern France, on October 4, 2020, after extensive flooding caused widespread damage in the Alpes-Maritimes departement. (Photo by NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP).

 

French and Italian rescue services stepped up search efforts Sunday after floods cut off several villages in the mountainous border regions, causing widespread damage and killing at least four people.

Others remained unaccounted for on the French side of the border after storms, torrential rain and flash floods battered the area, washing away roads and houses, cutting off entire villages and triggering landslips.

Emergency services recovered at least four bodies Sunday on the Mediterranean coast of Liguria, Italy, ANSA news agency and other Italian media reported.

Italian and French teams were working together to try to identify them, but it was not yet clear that they were victims of the flooding or if their deaths had another cause.

In Breil-sur-Roya, a French village close to the Italian border, houses were buried in mud and turned-over cars were stuck in the riverbed.

Rescue efforts were concentrated on the Roya valley where roughly 1,000 firefighters, backed by helicopters and the army, resumed their search for survivors and helped people whose homes were destroyed or inaccessible.

Storm Alex barrelled into France’s west coast on Thursday, bringing powerful winds and rain across the country before moving into northern Italy.

“What we are going through is extraordinary,” said Bernard Gonzalez, prefect of the Alpes-Maritimes region, after as much as 60 centimetres (two feet) of rain fell in 24 hours in the worst-affected areas.

Italy confirmed two people died Saturday, a volunteer firefighter on a rescue operation and a man whose car was washed away.

France also announced two fatalities. The first found was a shepherd whose body was pulled from a river near the border. Firefighters later announced a man had been found dead in his car in the southeastern village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie.

France has declared the region a natural disaster zone.

Saint-Martin-Vesubie, a village home to 1,400 north of Nice, was completely cut off by the storm.

A bedraggled group of tourists and residents gathered in the village square to be airlifted to safety, an AFPTV journalist said after reaching the site on foot.

“My three-storey house, it’s in the river,” said villager Sandra Dzidt, 62, who had to flee the floods dressed only in her nightgown. “All I have left is a tiny piece of wall and a door.”

Across the region, emergency crews were handing out food and airlifting thousands of bottles of water into remote villages cut off by the storms.

– ‘Helicopter procession’ –

French Prime Minister Jean Castex inspected the damage by helicopter on Saturday, saying he feared the number of people missing could rise after dozens of cars and several houses were swept away in apocalyptic scenes.

Gonzalez called on the families of the missing not to give up hope.

“Just because their loved ones haven’t been able to get in touch doesn’t mean that they have been taken by the storm,” he said.

Many landline and some mobile phone services were disrupted, with some villages using satellite phones to communicate with rescue services.

Despite forecasts of more rain, rescue efforts were to continue throughout Sunday, Gonzalez said.

“The helicopter procession will continue all day long,” he said.

The presidents of Italy’s Piedmont and Liguria regions signed a joint letter calling on the government to declare a state of emergency with several villages cut off.

“The situation is very serious. It is like it was in 1994,” when 70 died after the Po and Tarano rivers flooded, Piedmont’s president, Alberto Cirio, told La Stampa newspaper.

“The difference being 630 mm of water fell in 24 hours — unprecedented in such a small timeframe since 1954.”

Cirio added Italy was already struggling to cope with the effects of the coronavirus which has left some 36,000 dead and shattered the economy over the past six months.

“We are already in an extraordinary situation. Because of the pandemic the region will this year receive 200 million euros less in tax receipts. If the state does not intervene (with rescue funding) we shall not recover.”

AFP

States Ignored NIHSA Warnings On Flood – DG

 

Amid the torrential rains that have led to floods being recorded in some states in the country, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency has said state governments ignored its repeated warnings on impending disaster.

The NIHSA Director-General, Clement Nze, said the agency had earlier issued the warning of heavy downpour and consequent flooding expected in the country but the state governments did not prepare by taking proactive and preventive measures.

“We cannot go to the states to pull down structures which the state governments had given permits to be built at wrong locations,” he said during an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise.

“My agency sent out an alarm in April that this is the right season, that the best time to prepare for war is during the time of peace.

“Now that there is no rain yet, not much, or if there had been any rain at all as at February 4, no flooding incident had been recorded in Nigeria. That was the time states could have done some remedial measures. But what did the state governments do?” he said.

Nze noted that the agency raised another signal in July that most parts of the country were being ravaged by urban and coastal flooding caused by the absence of drainages and other structure.

NIHSA Boss, Clement Nze

 

To NIHSA boss, “the third leg of the flood is still coming sometime in August or September” but most of the states also ignored this warning.

Speaking on the way forward, Nze proposed that states should “build divergent structures as the River Niger is flowing.

“We have advocated that channels be constructed, artificial drainages, from the bank of the River Niger in each of the states as many as you can construct, build a deep channel during the dry season, let the water be 50km away from the bank of the river and then construct a reservoir, 50 meters in length and 30 meters deep so that when the water is passing during the rainy season, much will be entering these basins.

“By so doing, that will reduce the flooding you are seeing. And then, the water you have preserved will be used for all-round agriculture production.”

Niger, Kaduna Zamfara, Kebbi, Sokoto, Bauchi states, amongst others, have been ravaged by floods, with scores killed, thousands displaced and farmlands washed away.

Sudan Declares Three-Month State Of Emergency After Floods Kill Almost 100

Sudanese boys make their way through a flooded street at the area of al-Qamayir in the capital’s twin city of Omdurman, on August 26, 2020. ASHRAF SHAZLY / AFP

 

Sudan on Saturday declared a three-month national state of emergency after record-breaking torrential floods that cost 99 lives.

“A nationwide three-month state of emergency has been announced as Sudan is considered a natural disaster zone,” the interior ministry said on social media.

Floods caused by more than a month of heavy rains have killed 99 people, injured 46, and left 100,000 damaged properties in their wake, one of the worst natural disasters in decades, according to state news agency SUNA.

North Darfur in the country’s west and Sennar state in the south were among the hardest-hit areas.

Heavy rains usually fall in Sudan from June to October, and the country faces severe flooding every year.

“The Blue Nile has reached an all-time high since records began more than a century ago,” said the irrigation and water ministry last week.

The latest report from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Sudan said Thursday that over 380,000 people had already been “affected” by this year’s floods.

The whole flooding season in 2019 affected 400,000 people, according to an OCHA spokesperson.

AFP

Mother, Four Children Killed In Abuja Flood

 

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has expressed regrets over the death of a mother and her four children in Abuja on Saturday, after torrential rainfall in Gwagwalada area council that swept away some houses.

Speaking in Gwagwalada after an on the spot assessment of the damage done by the rainfall, the director, planning. research and forecasting of NEMA, Mr. Kayode Fagbemi advised residents of flood-prone areas to immediately move out to avoid more disasters.

He said, “It is unfortunate, especially because we have lost lives. This is exactly what we have been trying to educate people on.

“There is a culvert over there, it’s likely it has been blocked, and so the water had to find its way above the road and then affected the house or houses.

“We still want to educate people, we are still going to have more rainfalls, we want the people to please clear all their drainages, waterways should be cleared of waste, and people should move, people that are close to waterways like this should move.

“We don’t want to lose more lives, we don’t want to lose people. We want people to know that flood this year has been predicted and whatever we can do to save lives we will do”.

READ ALSO: Nine Dead, 20,000 Affected By Niger Floods

Earlier in the year, the Director-General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Retired Air Vice-Marshal Muhammadu Muhammad cautioned Nigerians residing in areas identified as flood risk areas to evacuate their facilities immediately to avert any form of disaster that may arise as a result of flooding.

According to Air Vice-Marshal, Muhammad about 102 local governments are expected to experience a high rate of flooding, he, however, notes that the agency has put in place measures to mitigate the impact.

In a statement, Mr. Muhammad said Kaura and Zaria local government areas in Kaduna state are among the high-risk areas and urged state emergency management agencies to help sensitize residents and prepare to evacuate communities.

The NEMA DG also advised governments to organise state humanitarian coordination forum meetings in order to prepare stakeholders for mitigation and response to floods when they hit.

Flood Kills 12 People In Western Uganda – Red Cross

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

 

Twelve people have been swept to their deaths by floods in western Uganda, the Red Cross said on Saturday, as the East African country is battered by torrential rain.

“We have recovered 12 bodies from the water and one person has been rushed to hospital with serious injuries,” said Diana Tumuhimbise, Red Cross branch manager in the Bundibugyo district.

“The rain started last night and continued until 9:00 am (0600 GMT),” she told AFP on Saturday.

“Several houses have been swept away, roads have been blocked and some washed away completely.”

The Red Cross has launched a search and rescue operation with the police, military and community members in 12 affected areas but it is not yet clear how many people are missing.

Rain is hampering communication in the remote location, on the border with DR Congo and separated from the rest of Uganda by the Rwenzori mountains.

At least 20 people have been killed as a result of floods and mudslides in the last week in Uganda.

The extreme weather has been blamed on the Indian Ocean Dipole — a climate system defined by the difference in sea surface temperature between western and eastern areas of the ocean.

At the moment, the ocean around East Africa is far warmer than usual, resulting in higher evaporation and moist air flowing inwards over the continent as rain: the hallmarks of a “positive” dipole.

Scientists warn that as ocean temperatures rise because of climate change, Indian Ocean dipoles will become more frequent and severe.

 

AFP

Buhari Commiserates With Victims Of Floods

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari commiserates with victims of natural disasters especially floods which have ravaged some states of the Federation recently. Particularly, there have been more occurrences in the Southwest and Southeastern parts of the country.

While the President notes that this phenomenon is not peculiar to Nigeria as is evident in other parts of the world, he assures that the occurrence, attributable in part to climate change, is attracting his attention and those of other world leaders, as evidenced by series of meetings and conferences on the phenomenon, the latest of which happened on the margins of the recent United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York.

READ ALSO: We Are Very Concerned About The Security Challenges In The FCT – Lawan

Commending the efforts of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) for its intervention activities so far, bringing succour to victims in different parts of the country, President Buhari expresses concern that there is an overwhelming recourse to the federal body to come to the aid of the distressed whenever disasters occur, which should normally not be the case.

The President reminds other stakeholders of their roles as spelt out in the policy document on disaster management in the country, specifically calling on local and state governments to live up to their responsibilities by coming to the assistance of victims that fall within their purview.

President Buhari assures all Nigerians of his steadfast commitment to issues bordering on their welfare, promising that his administration is determined to inculcate better coordination of the plight of the citizenry through the newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Floods: NIHSA Blames State Govts, Developers For Ignoring Warnings

Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) on Monday blamed state governments, estate developers and other individuals for floods which have recently plagued different parts of the country.

Director-General of the agency, Clement Nze, in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, said state governments and agencies have repeatedly failed to set up measures but only resort to ‘fire brigade approach’ when flooding eventually occurs.

READ ALSO: Ondo Varsity Final-Year Student Swept Away By Flood

“The response to our predictions in terms of taking precautionary measures have not been quite pleasant. It is only when the disaster has occurred that people will now be taking the fire brigade approach.

“State governments, individuals, estate developers have not taken heed to our predictions. If they have done so we won’t be witnessing what is happening today. Response to our predictions are not encouraging,” he lamented.

NIHASA DG, Clement Nze

 

When questioned on roles played by the NIHSA to curb flooding following their predictions, Nze said the role of his agency is to merely advise and not enforce.

He added that ministries involved in enforcing measures that can prevent flooding are however engaged when flood alerts are issued.

“Whatever we do, we bring in different authorities that are in charge of enforcement. Ministry of urban planning, regional planning, environment, and others, are pre-informed.

“It is their role to implement. We are not an enforcement agency.”

Nze also blamed flooding on poor urban planning, and lack of drainages.

He warned that states located within the coastal region need to put up extra measures to prevent flooding concluding that “Coastal flooding will occur from time to time in places like Lagos, Ondo, and Bayelsa.

NIHSA earlier this year issued flood alert warning Nigerians of imminent increased flooding.

The hydrological agency predicted that no fewer than 74 Local Government Areas (LGA) in 30 states in Nigeria would experience severe flooding in June, July, August, and September.

They also warned that 279 local government areas would experience minimum flooding across the country in the period.

Niamey Residents Flee After The Worst Floods In 50 Years

A barefoot child walks past tents on September 11, 2019 in the makeshift camp of Saguia near the capital Niamey after the Niger river floods forced inhabitants out of the area.  BOUREIMA HAMA / AFP

 

“At last, we’re here!” Amina and Halima, who live in Niger’s capital Niamey, exulted after reaching high ground following the worst floods to hit the city in 50 years.

Two weeks ago, authorities in Niamey declared a red alert when the waters of the Niger river — the third biggest in Africa — rose to a level “not seen in more than 50 years”.

The floods have affected more than 6,300 people in the traditionally dusty city.

Nearly 60 have been killed and 130,000 displaced across the nation this rainy season, officials say.

Amina and Halima are among those who have been evacuated to tent shelters at Saguia in the highlands overlooking Niamey.

The women travelled in a van, but officials have been chartering all kinds of transport to move people in trouble, while others hire taxis, ride motorbikes and even walk.

Saguia is a patch of land owned by the army and usually off limits to the public.

In 2012, it was used to house about 400 soldiers from neighbouring Mali who had fled an offensive by Tuareg rebels.

For access to the site, people need “tickets” that are distributed in schools serving as transit centres for flood victims, according to the armed paramilitary police checking new arrivals.

The heights give a panoramic view of the homes and rice paddies largely submerged by the water.

 ‘Surprised in our sleep’ 

Inside the camp, the fire brigade and municipal employees have put up dozens of white tents supplied by the Red Cross and the United Nations.

“When people arrive here, they are installed in tents (…) and we have enough food for them all,” Niamey governor Issaka Assane Karanta told AFP.

A generator and a fresh-water well have both been repaired, lamp posts will soon be installed and a medical centre is open “for the treatment of emergency cases”, the governor said.

Some 122 households, comprising 854 people, have been allocated tents and the site can take in a total of 1,200 flood victims, he added.

“They gave us rice, millet, mosquito nets, blankets and drinking water,” said Aissa Salifou, putting on makeup in her tent, her head and shoulders covered in a broad veil.

“The water surprised us in our sleep,” added the woman from one of Niamey’s hardest-hit districts, Kirkissoye. “We had to demolish the walls in neighbouring houses to scramble out.”

“We live on the low ground where we were trapped by the water, but this place is spacious, well-aired and above all safe,” said Fatouma Boubacar, another Kirkissoye resident, watching her cooking pot on the fire.

 ‘I was lucky’ 

Though Boubacar arrived only two days earlier, she has resumed her customary job, selling vegetables.

“I was lucky,” said Ramatou Abdou, reclining in an armchair with a toothpick stuck between her teeth.

“I barely got out of the house before the roof fell in. I’m expecting my first baby in a month and I shall call it Saguia.”

In the shade of a huge tree, a dozen new arrivals awaited the completion of their shelters before moving in.

Barefoot children meanwhile made up football teams and chased a rag ball on a makeshift pitch in the baking heat.

On the far side of the camp, a policeman with a gun slung over his shoulder watched over a bunch of children carrying plates and queuing for a hot meal provided by an NGO.

“We’re trying to live here and waiting to see what Allah has in store for us,” Boubacar said.

The level of the Niger has fallen slightly after bursting its banks, but governor Karanta is urging people from affected areas to be watchful and “to keep well away from the bed of the river”.

Upstream in Mali, technicians have opened floodgates on a major dam and the extra water is “slowly but surely” flowing down to Niger, Karanta said.

AFP

 

Morocco Flooding Kills Seven – Officials

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

At least seven people died Wednesday when a river burst its banks and flooded a village football pitch where a game was being played in south Morocco, local authorities and a witness said.

Eight men who had sought refuge in the changing rooms were swept away in the floodwater after heavy showers hit the Taroudant region late in the day, an eyewitness told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“We’re in shock, I’m 64 years old and I’ve never seen such a downpour,” the witness said.

Search and rescue operations were underway to find further victims, officials said.

READ ALSO: Clashes Between Herders, Farmers Kill 11 In Chad

Photographs and videos shared on social media showed muddy waters carrying away people who had clambered on top of a building flattened by the flooding.

Morocco’s national weather service had warned of the risk of stormy rains on Wednesday afternoon in several provinces.

The heavy downpour followed a dry spell, making the floods more violent, local media reported.

Floods are common in Morocco. In late July, 15 people died in a landslide caused by flash floods on a road south of Marrakesh.

Floods Hit Parts Of Lagos After Heavy Rains

 

Floods have taken over parts of Lagos State following an early morning heavy rainfall in the nation’s commercial hub.

This has caused activities to get off to a slow start as traffic was moving at a very slow pace on most major roads.

Some of the major areas affected include the Alfred Rewane Road in Ikoyi, where rainstorm uprooted trees which fell on moving cars.

READ ALSOOndo Youths Protest Over Lack Of Development In Ilaje

Apongbon axis in Lagos Island and Toyin Street in Ikeja were equally affected.

The rain, which lasted for more than one hour in some places, also left several roads flooded making it difficult for motorists and commuters to move.

At the Ogudu end of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, traffic was almost at a standstill as rainwater took over the road, forcing motorists to move at a very slow pace.

See photos below:

29 Killed, Several Missing In Indonesia Floods

Residents salvaging belongings as floodwaters submerged their homes after heavy rains in Bengkulu on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. DIVA MARHA / AFP

 

Floods sparked by torrential rains have killed 29 people in Indonesia with a dozen more still missing, officials said Monday, marking the latest calamity for a disaster-prone nation.

Landslides and floods are common, especially during the monsoon season between October and April, when rains lash the vast Southeast Asian archipelago.

On Monday, Indonesia’s disaster agency confirmed 29 deaths and said at least 13 more people were missing after days of pounding storms on the island of Sumatra.

READ ALSO: Over 270 Election Staff Die Counting Votes In Indonesia

Some 12,000 others have been evacuated from water-logged Bengkulu province with hundreds of buildings, bridges and roads damaged.

Hardest hit was Bengkulu Tengah district, just outside of the provincial capital, where 22 people were killed along with hundreds of livestock.

Authorities have set up temporary shelters and public kitchens for the evacuees.

Meanwhile, a landslide triggered by heavy rain in Sumatra’s Lampung province on Saturday killed a family of six and disrupted transportation links to neighbouring regions.

Flooding in parts of the capital Jakarta during the week killed at least two people and forced more than 2,000 to evacuate their homes.

Residents of Bogor, a satellite city of Jakarta, also had to contend with 14 pythons that were set loose from a private property due to the high waters.

Six of the snakes — which were as long as four metres (13 feet) — have been found, but the remaining eight remain on the loose, officials said at the weekend.

In Sumatra, authorities said that illegal coal mining was partly to blame for deadly landslides as the practice makes loose soil susceptible to slides when heavy rains hit.

“Apart from natural factors like the heavy rain,(the flooding) was also caused by human activity that destroys the environment,” disaster agency head Doni Monardo told reporters in Bengkulu on Monday.

Activists have long warned deforestation from rampant mining in the province could trigger a catastrophe.

At least four major rivers in Bengkulu overflow every time it rains due to environmental damage near their banks, activists said.

“The flooding in Bengkulu was made worse by the severe damage…caused by coal mining,” Ali Akbar from local environmental group Kanopi Bengkulu said in a statement.

Illegal mining was blamed for killing dozens on the island of Sulawesi in March when a makeshift mine collapsed.

Last month, some 112 people died and more than 90 remain missing after torrential rains pounded Indonesia’s Papua region, triggering landslides and flash floods.

AFP

Floods Kill 51, Displace 1,000 People In South Africa

The Umhlatuzana Hindu Temple, south of Durban, damaged after the township was hit by heavy rain and flash floods following a torrential downpour on April 23, 2019.  RAJESH JANTILAL / AFP

 

Devastating floods in South Africa have left 51 dead and forced more than a thousand people from their homes, according to an updated toll issued Wednesday as President Cyril Ramaphosa flew to the deluged region.

Heavy rains have lashed the southeast of the country, tearing down homes and ravaging infrastructure in KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape provinces.

Speaking to the affected Amanzimtoti community in Durban, after returning from emergency African Union talks in Egypt on the crises in Libya and Sudan, Ramaphosa said: “there are more than 1,000 people who are now displaced.”

READ ALSO: Floods, Mudslides Kill 23 In South Africa

He raised concerns about Free State province north of KwaZulu-Natal, saying that continuing downpours there were causing “risky situations.”

The government will set aside emergency funding to help survivors rebuild their lives, Ramaphosa vowed.

Fifty-one people have been confirmed dead so far, although local media have given a toll as high as 54, rising from 33 on Tuesday.

Rescuers on Wednesday continued to comb debris, desperately looking for people feared trapped by landslides.

Emergency responders reported collapsed buildings and flooded roads, blocked sewer lines and toppled electricity pylons.

For safety reasons, schools and some businesses were shut in the affected areas.

South African military personnel have been dispatched to help rescue and evacuation efforts.

The South African Weather Services warned that more heavy rain and gale force winds were expected, which could threaten low-lying bridges and roads.

AFP