14 Dead As Cyclone Bulbul Smashes Into India, Bangladesh Coasts

 

Fourteen people died and more than two million others spent a night huddled in storm shelters as Cyclone Bulbul smashed into the coasts of India and Bangladesh with fierce gales and torrential rains, officials said Sunday.

The cyclone packed winds of up to 120 kilometres (75 miles) per hour when it hit late Saturday, closing ports and airports in both countries.

Seven people were killed in India’s West Bengal state, the Press Trust of India reported, including two after uprooted trees fell on their homes and another after being struck by falling branches in Kolkata.

An eighth person died under a collapsed wall in nearby Odisha state.

In Bangladesh, six people were killed — five by falling trees — and at least 20 people were injured.

Five others are missing after a fishing trawler sank in squally weather on Meghna river near the southern island of Bhola, district administrator Masud Alam Siddiqui told AFP.

The cyclone also damaged some 4,000 mostly mud and tin-built houses, disaster management secretary Shah Kamal told AFP.

In coastal Khulna, the worst-hit district in Bangladesh, trees swayed violently and were ripped from the ground in the fierce storm, blocking roads and hampering access to the area.

Some low-lying parts of the district were flooded, disaster management minister Enamur Rahman told AFP.

Authorities said the cyclone was weakening as it moved inland.

“It has turned into a deep depression, causing heavy rainfall,” Bangladesh weather bureau deputy chief Ayesha Khatun told AFP.

Bulbul hit the coast at the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forest which straddles Bangladesh and India, and is home to endangered species including Bengal tigers and Irrawaddy dolphins.

The mangroves shielded the coast from the storm’s full impact, Khatun said.

‘Trail of destruction’

Some 2.1 million people across Bangladesh were relocated to cyclone shelters.

Troops were sent to coastal districts while tens of thousands of volunteers went door-to-door and used loudspeakers to urge people to evacuate their villages.

“We spent the night with another 400 people,” said Ambia Begum, who arrived at a shelter in the port town of Mongla late Saturday along with her family.

“I am worried about my cattle and the straw roof of my house. I could not bring them here. Allah knows what is happening there,” the 30-year-old mother of three told AFP.

Around 1,500 tourists were stranded on St. Martin’s island off southeastern Bangladesh after boat services were cancelled.

In India, nearly 120,000 people who were evacuated started to return home as the cyclone weakened, authorities said.

“The storm has left a trail of destruction as it’s crossed the coastline of West Bengal,” the state’s Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said.

Bangladesh’s low-lying coast, home to 30 million people, and India’s east are regularly battered by cyclones.

Hundreds of thousands of people living around the Bay of Bengal have been killed in cyclones in recent decades.

While the frequency and intensity of the storms have increased, partly due to climate change, the death tolls have come down because of faster evacuations and the building of thousands of coastal shelters.

Cyclone Fani was the most powerful storm to hit the area in years when it struck in May, killing 12 people.

Nine Killed As Typhoon Lashes South Korea

 

 

At least nine people were killed and several others missing after Typhoon Mitag lashed South Korea with heavy rain and strong winds, authorities said Thursday.

The storm hit southern parts of the country on Wednesday night, prompting flood warnings and triggering landslides in affected areas.

A total of nine people were killed across the country as of Thursday afternoon, the Ministry of Interior and Safety said, but the toll was expected to rise with several people missing.

READ ALSO: Four Police Officers Killed In Paris Stabbing, Attacker Shot Dead

A woman in her 60s was found dead after her home was buried in a landslide in the southern port city of Busan and around 600 rescue workers were trying to locate three others believed to be trapped beneath the rubble.

Park Young-hak was inside his tool shed — later buried in the landslide — and said he escaped after hearing a loud “roar”.

“When I ran out to see what it was the house next to me had already disappeared,” Park told AFP.

More than 1,000 homes were damaged and over 1,500 people evacuated their houses in advance, the ministry said.

Mitag is the 18th typhoon this year and seventh to hit the Korean peninsula.

30 Killed As Dorian Storms Bahamas

This satellite image obtained from NOAA/RAMMB, shows Tropical Storm Dorian as it approaching the Bahamas and Florida at 13:430UTC on August 31, 2019. HO / NOAA/RAMMB / AFP

 

The death toll from Hurricane Dorian has risen to 30 in the Bahamas, Prime Minister Hubert Minnis told American network CNN on Thursday.

Authorities had previously reported 20 dead, but have warned that the final figure is sure to be far higher.

Minnis has said that the storm caused “generational devastation.”

READ ALSO: 33 Bodies Recovered After California Dive Boat Disaster

The United Nations said 70,000 people in the Bahamas were in “immediate need” of aid.

Dorian, currently a Category 2 storm, was pounding the US states of North and South Carolina Thursday night with strong winds and driving rain, bringing dangerous storm surge.

 

Puerto Rico Braces For Hit From Hurricane Dorian

A person is seen along the beach as Tropical Storm Dorian passes the island on August 28, 2019 in Luquillo, Puerto Rico.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP 

 

Hurricane Dorian bore down on Puerto Rico Wednesday as residents braced for a direct hit, the first since the island was ravaged two years ago by Hurricane Maria.

Even before the storm hit, an 80-year-old man was killed in a fall from a ladder while fixing a roof in a San Juan suburb, police said.

US forecasters said Dorian was upgraded to a hurricane from a tropical storm as it chugged near St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands and was expected to make landfall in populous eastern Puerto Rico later Wednesday.

The latest path also puts Dorian on a trajectory to strike the Atlantic coast of Florida or Georgia by the weekend, with few obstacles to weaken it after Puerto Rico.

Residents of the seaside town of Fajardo, hard hit by Maria in 2017 and now directly in Dorian’s path, scrambled to get ready, fueling their vehicles and stocking up on basic necessities.

Miguel Melendez joked that the popular tourist area has become a “welcome committee” for hurricanes.

“I went to bed more or less at ease,” the 63-year-old retiree said. “But my sister woke me at 7:00 am to tell me: ‘Look, this has changed, this is headed to the house again.'”

Carmen Donos exited a Fajardo supermarket Wednesday morning with a shopping cart loaded with “my little basic things, and some sweets for when I’m anxious because the lights have gone out.”

The 49-year-old said she lost “absolutely everything” to flooding during Maria. “I definitely don’t want to go through that again.”

President Donald Trump declared a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, which is a US territory, authorizing federal assistance even as he lashed out at the island as “one of the most corrupt places on earth.

“Their political system is broken and their politicians are either Incompetent or Corrupt,” he said on Twitter.

Evacuations were getting underway, starting with people living in Maria-damaged homes that still have blue tarps for roofs, Carlos Acevedo Caballero, head of the local emergency management agency, told reporters.

Some 30,000 houses in Puerto Rico have blue tarps where once they had roofs.

Maria, a Category 4 hurricane, shattered the island’s already shaky power grid, overwhelmed public services and left many residents homeless.

A study accepted as valid by the government, which initially put the death toll at 64, estimated that nearly 3,000 people died as a result of the hurricane and the months of disruption that followed.

Dorian, though far less powerful than Maria, looms as the first major test of the island’s halting recovery.

As of 1800 GMT, the storm was over St Thomas, packing 75-mile-an-hour (120-kilometer) winds.

It is forecast to dump four to six inches of rain on Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Agents ‘ready to respond’

Forecasters project that after it crosses Puerto Rico, the storm will move into the Atlantic. It is expected to follow a trajectory north of the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas and Turks and Caicos before swinging west toward Florida sometime over the weekend.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis warned that Dorian could grow into a major hurricane as he warned people to get ready.

“All Floridians on the East Coast should have 7 days of supplies, prepare their homes and follow the track closely,” he tweeted.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency said some 3,000 agents had been deployed in Puerto Rico and were “ready to respond.”

“Emergency communications, logistics & transportation teams are also positioned on the island,” it said Tuesday on Twitter.

Puerto Rico’s new governor, Wanda Vazquez, said the island was better prepared this time to respond to any contingency.

Former governor Ricardo Rossello was forced to resign last month in part because of criticism of his handling of the emergency created by Maria.

Morocco Landslide Leaves 15 Dead

Morocco Rejoins African Union

 

Moroccan emergency crews pulled 15 bodies from the mud after a rare summer downpour triggered a landslide that buried a minibus, authorities said Friday, providing the first official toll.

The victims — eleven women, three men and one child — were found in the bus buried some 20 metres (more than 60 feet) under the masses of earth and rock dislodged by the rain, local authorities said.

“There are no survivors,” they said in a statement.

The official toll comes after public broadcaster 2M reported Friday morning that 16 bodies had been recovered.

The bus was buried Wednesday evening when a deluge in the Atlas mountains south of Marrakesh triggered flash flooding.

Images released by the authorities show excavators working to dig a path to the bus, more than 24 hours after it was engulfed by the debris.

A weather alert on Tuesday warned of storms in several provinces in the North African country, which rarely receives summer rains.

Investment in Morocco’s road network has largely focused on the main transport arteries and many rural areas can be reached only by dirt tracks that are vulnerable to extreme weather.

Every year, nearly 3,500 people are killed on the North African country’s roads.

AFP

Trump Declares State Of Emergency As Storm Bears Down On New Orleans

 

US President Donald Trump has declared a state of emergency as Tropical Storm Barry bears down on New Orleans, as the southern city braces for extreme winds over the weekend.

The weather system is expected to reach hurricane strength Friday or early Saturday when it nears Louisiana’s coast, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC), and has already caused major flooding in the low-lying city.

Trump on Thursday issued a national disaster declaration, which will allow federal agencies to participate in emergency relief efforts, in response to a request by Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards.

“Thank you President Trump for quickly responding to my request… We appreciate the support of the White House and our federal partners as we continue our unprecedented flood fight,” the governor said in a tweet Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) separately announced that it would temporarily halt immigration enforcement activity in areas subject to the state of emergency.

It said that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency would not target migrant families who were evacuating during the storm, ahead of sweeping operations nationwide to detain and deport illegal immigrants expected to start this weekend.

“Our highest priority remains the preservation of life and safety. In consideration of these circumstances, there will be no immigration enforcement initiatives associated with evacuations or sheltering related to the storm, except in the event of a serious public safety threat,” the agency said in a Thursday press release.

The incoming storm has evoked memories of Hurricane Katrina, the costliest and deadliest hurricane in US history, which submerged about 80 percent of New Orleans as the city’s flood defenses gave way.

Katrina also pounded other parts of Louisiana as well as Mississippi and Alabama, leading to about 1,800 deaths and more than $150 billion in damage.

AFP

Collapsed Wall Kills 22 In Mumbai Monsoon Chaos

 

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.

READ ALSO: Eight Dead, 15 Missing After Indian Dam Breach

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.

AFP

Eight Dead, 15 Missing After Indian Dam Breach

 

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.

READ ALSO: Collapsed Wall Kills 22 In Mumbai Monsoon Chaos

“We have located eight dead bodies and over 15 people are still missing,” said spokesman Alok Awasthy.

Police teams and government officials were also helping rescue efforts.

In the state capital, a spokesman for the local authority said the death toll from the wall collapse in a slum in the north of the city had risen to 24, with many others being treated for injuries.

Six labourers also died in the nearby city of Pune when another wall collapsed.

India’s weather department has warned of “extremely heavy rainfall” in parts of Mumbai in coming days.

After more than 100 flights were either cancelled or diverted from Mumbai airport on Tuesday, officials announced the operations on the main runway were still closed.

According to Skymet Weather, a private-weather tracking agency, Mumbai faces serious risks of flooding with more than 200 millimetres (eight inches) of rain expected in the next few days.

First Death Recorded As Cyclone Kenneth Smashes Into Mozambique

File Photo: Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai./ AFP

 

A powerful cyclone smashed into northern Mozambique, leaving one person dead on Friday, barely a month after a super-storm hit the centre of the country, devastating the area and leaving hundreds dead.

Category three Cyclone Kenneth, packing winds of 160 kilometres (100 miles) an hour, struck the north coast’s Cabo Delgado province late Thursday after swiping the Comoros islands.

The United Nations warned of flash flooding and landslides as Mozambique’s emergency agency the INGC reported one person was killed by a falling coconut tree in the port city of Pemba, Cabo Delgado’s provincial capital.

On the tourist island of Ibo, 90 percent of homes for the 6,000 population had been flattened, according to a spokesman for the agency, Antonio Beleza.

“I don’t expect to find my hotel undamaged,” said Swiss hotel owner Lucie Amr, who took refuge in Ibo’s fort alongside many local residents.

The winds had reduced to about 70 kilometres an hour on Friday, according to the local meteorological institute, but heavy rains are forecast over the next 24 hours, raising fears of flooding and mudslides in Cabo Delgado, which borders Tanzania.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) said over 600 millimetres (almost 24 inches) of rainfall was expected.

That would be nearly double the amount accumulated in 10 days of rainfall that caused flooding in Beira, which was devastated during Cyclone Idai.

‘Additional blow’

The most powerful storm to strike the region in decades, Idai cut a path of destruction through Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. It left more than 1,000 dead, causing damage estimated at around $2 billion (1.8 billion euros)

“Although floodwaters have receded in most areas it (Idai)affected, access is still a challenge as infrastructure was severely compromised,” the WFP said.

“This second cyclone is an additional blow for the people of Mozambique and bound to complicate the humanitarian response,” adding that it had already provided food aid to 1.3 million people after Idai.

READ ALSO: Floods Kill 51, Displace 1,000 People In South Africa

It said the government has made public buildings including schools available to people seeking shelter from the flooding and the WFP has “prepositioned” over 500 tonnes of food in Pemba.

A helicopter is expected to arrived in Cabo Delgado when weather conditions allow as roads are expected to be impassable because of flooding, making food delivery difficult, it added.

Forecasters at Meteo-France warned that Kenneth could trigger waves off Mozambique’s northeastern shore as much as five metres (16 feet) higher than usual.

“I was quite preoccupied by the sea because they announced six metre waves… the wind was very strong, and I’ve never seen anything like it in my 15 years in Pemba,” a Portuguese owner of a lodge on Wimby beach, Anabela Moreira, told AFP.

Local journalist Jonas Wazir told AFP that some houses had collapsed and that electricity supply in the city was down.

The Red Cross warned it was “especially concerned” about the storm’s impact, as many communities in Mozambique are still recovering from a cyclone that hit on the night of March 14-15.

“Cyclone Kenneth may require a major new humanitarian operation at the same time that the ongoing Cyclone Idai response targeting three million people in three countries remains critically underfunded,” the UN’s humanitarian coordination office OCHA also warned.

Kenneth first passed by the Indian Ocean archipelago nation of Comoros on Thursday, battering it with high winds and heavy rains, the country’s Meteorological Office wrote on Facebook.

Tanzania concern

Tanzanian authorities ordered schools and businesses shut in some southern districts on Thursday and urged people to brace for extreme winds and rain.

The Tanzanian provinces of Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma were at highest risk, the country’s meteorological agency said.

Residents in Mtwara were leaving the coastal enclave with their families, some on foot, for emergency shelters, witnesses told AFP by phone.

Gelasius Byakanwa, the governor of Mtwara, ordered schools closed in his province and asked “students to stay home and employees not to go to their offices”.

AFP

Five Cholera Cases In Cyclone-Ravaged Mozambique

Residents stand on rooftops in a flooded area of Buzi, central Mozambique, on March 20, 2019, after the passage of cyclone Idai./ AFP

 

Mozambique’s Environment Minister Celso Correia said Wednesday that five cases of cholera had been confirmed following the cyclone that ravaged the country killing at least 468 people.

READ ALSO: Six Die In Mali Attacks As UN Urges End To ‘Spiral Of Violence’

“We have five cases of cholera which have been confirmed. This is in Beira and the area around,” Correia told AFP, referring to the city which bore the brunt of the cyclone’s force.

AFP

More Than 1,000 Feared Dead In Mozambique Storm

 

 

More than a thousand people are feared to have died in a cyclone that smashed into Mozambique last week, while scores have been killed and more than 150 are missing in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

The city of Beira in central Mozambique bore Cyclone Idai’s full wrath on Thursday before the storm barrelled on to neighbouring Zimbabwe, unleashing fierce winds and flash floods and washing away roads and houses.

“For the moment we have registered 84 deaths officially, but when we flew over the area… this morning to understand what’s going on, everything indicates that we could register more than 1,000 deaths,” Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said in a nationwide address.

“This is a real humanitarian disaster,” he said. “More than 100,000 people are in danger”.

Aerial photographs released by a Christian non-profit organisation, the Mission Aviation Fellowship, showed groups of people stuck on roof tops with flood waters up to window level.

“The scale of damage… (in) Beira is massive and horrifying”, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said.

Ninety percent of the city of some 530,000 people and its surrounding area has been “damaged or destroyed,” it said in a statement.

“The situation is terrible. The scale of devastation is enormous,” the IFRC’s Jamie LeSueur said.

“Almost everything is destroyed. Communication lines have been completely cut and roads have been destroyed. Some affected communities are not accessible.”

A large dam burst on Sunday and cut off the last road to Beira, he said.

Sofala Province governor Alberto Mondlane warned that the “biggest threat we have now, even bigger than the cyclone, is floods because it’s raining more and more”.

‘A perfect storm’

Emma Beaty, coordinator of a grouping of NGOs known as Cosaco, said: “We’ve never had something of this magnitude before in Mozambique”.

“Some dams have broken, and others have reached full capacity, they’ll very soon open the flood gates. It’s a convergence of flooding, cyclones, dams breaking and making a potential wave: everything’s in place so we get a perfect storm.”

Nyusi said the Pungwe and Buzi rivers in central Mozambique “have burst their banks and engulfed entire villages.”

“Communities are isolated and bodies are floating” on the waters, he said.

“Flying roofing sheets beheaded people,” Rajino Paulino recounting the moment the cyclone smashed into Beira.

“We are sleeping rough, we are eating poorly and we don’t have houses anymore,” Paulino said.

Beira international airport was closed because of cyclone damage but later reopened.

Zimbabwe hit

In neighbouring Zimbabwe, Idai left 89 dead and at least 150 more missing, according to a toll compiled by AFP.

It swept away homes and ripped bridges to pieces, leaving destruction that the acting defence minister, Perrance Shiri, said “resembles the aftermath of a full-scale war”.

“There was a lot of destruction both on our facilities and on people,” said Shiri, speaking on television from the affected eastern highlands region.

Some roads were swallowed up by massive sinkholes, while bridges were ripped to pieces by flash floods, according to an AFP photographer.

“This is the worst infrastructural damage we have ever had,” Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said.

The eastern district of Chimanimani was worst-hit, with houses and most of the region’s bridges washed away by flash floods.

The most affected areas are not yet accessible, and high winds and dense clouds have hampered military rescue helicopter flights.

Two pupils and a worker at a secondary school in the area were among those killed after a landslide sent a boulder crashing into their dormitory.

Soldiers on Sunday helped rescue the surviving nearly 200 pupils, teachers and staff who had been trapped at the school in Chimanimani.

Joshua Sacco, lawmaker for Chimanimani, told AFP that between “150 to 200 people” are missing.

The majority of them are thought to be government workers, whose housing complex was completely engulfed by raging waters. Their fate was unknown because the area was still unreachable.

“We are very worried because all these houses were just suddenly submerged under water and literally washed away and that is where we have about 147 missing,” he said.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa cut short a visit to Abu Dhabi, saying on his return home on Monday, “we are deeply grieved as a nation”.

His government has come under fire for failing to evacuate people in time.

AFP

FG, Ogun Govt. Flag Off 50 Hectares Tree Planting Project

FG, Ogun Govt. Flag Off 50 Hecters Tree Planting ProjectThe Nigerian government and the Ogun state government have flagged off 50 hectares of tree planting programme to effectively address deforestation and the abuse of forest reserves in the state as a result illegal tree felling and land clearing for agricultural purposes.

At a ceremony held at Olokemeji Forest Reserve in the state, the Minister of Environment, represented by a director in the ministry, Mr Philip Bankole, said that the federal government was ready to take drastic measures and make policies to control the wanton destruction of forest reserves across the country.

He enlisted the support and understanding of state governments, community leaders, and members of the Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria to be at the vanguard of protecting the forests from further degradation.

“We must fashion out appropriate strategies and policies for sustainable forest management in our country with the entire citizenry adapting to responsible behaviour.

“It is not only the loggers that destroy our forests, even the hunter that puts fire into the forest.

“So, the federal government will continue to provide the necessary policy guidelines, facilitate dialogue with relevant stakeholders and provide the needed enabling environment for stakeholders to participate in afforestation and sustainable forest management in our country,” he said.

The Ogun State Commissioner for Forestry, Kolawole Lawal, said: “Today we are witnessing the flag-off of 50 hectares of tree planting in our state.

“This development is highly instructive as the administration is taking steps to mitigate the effects of climate change and all hands must be on deck to support this initiative.”

The National Chairman of the Processed Wood Producers and Marketers Association of Nigeria said that despite the rich varieties of Nigeria’s forest and wildlife, this source of national pride is being threatened by deforestation.

“Massive reforestation is the answer, the earlier we find alternative to fuel wood, the better. Obviously, government alone cannot do it, just like the education trust fund, government should create a trust fund to be funded with tax and levies on all forest products,” he said.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Nigeria is losing about 350,000 to 400,000 annually representing 55.7% of its forest reserves to wanton, illegal and uncontrolled tree felling.

The effects remain visible as this has brought untoward stress on the environment which has manifested in massive gully erosion and imbalance in the ecosystem.