Fiji cyclone damage overwhelming, leader says

SUVA, Fiji — The South Pacific island nation of Fiji has suffered overwhelming damage from a powerful cyclone that battered its shores for more than three days, the prime minister said Wednesday as relief operations were launched in the country’s northern regions.

Fiji sent naval patrol boats laden with supplies and support staff sailing for the northern islands that bore the full brunt of the storm, while Australian and New Zealand air force planes began airlifting emergency supplies to the island group and carrying out surveillance over affected northern areas.

Only one death has been reported, but the full extent of the damage has yet to be determined because communications to the hardest hit areas were cut off for days.

“It is evident that wherever (Cyclone) Tomas has struck, the damage has been overwhelming,” Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Fiji’s prime minister and military chief, said Wednesday as the first reports began to roll in.

Cyclone Tomas, packing winds of up to 130 mph (205 kph) at its center and gusts of up to 175 mph (280 kph), started hitting Fiji late Friday. It blasted through the northern Lau and Lomaiviti island groups and the northern coast of the second biggest island, Vanua Levu, before losing strength as it moved out to sea Wednesday, the nation’s weather office said.

Matt Boterhoven, senior forecaster at Fiji’s Tropical Cyclone Center, said “the good news is it’s accelerating away from Fiji … and weakening in the cooler waters.”

All storm and strong wind warnings for Fiji have been canceled, he said. Earlier, sea surges of up to 23 feet (7 meters) were reported in the Lau island group, which was hit head-on by the cyclone, he said.

A nationwide curfew was lifted Wednesday, but a state of emergency will remain in effect for 30 days in the country’s northern and eastern divisions.

On the northern island of Koro, seven of the 14 villages have been badly damaged, said Julian Hennings, a spokesman for the island’s Dere Bay Resort.

“Some of the houses have blown away. A lot of trees have been uprooted, some of the roads have been blocked off because the waves have picked up rocks and coral and have dumped it on the road,” he said. One of four landing jetties was also severely damaged.

Tiny Cikobia Island, home to about 400 people, suffered four days of hammering from the cyclone, which smashed houses, uprooted trees, washed away all local boats and scattered debris across the island, Fiji Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

It received a brief phone call from an unnamed man at Vuninuku village on the island who said damage was so massive that it would take two days to clear the way to the only school near the village.

Before it could get the villager’s name, the phone line to the island went dead again, the state-owned station said. A surveillance flight will check the island later Wednesday and a navy patrol boat is expected to reach there Thursday.

National Disaster Management Office spokesman Pajiliai Dobui said aerial surveillance was already under way over some northern islands “and we hope to tell from the air how serious the damage has been.”

Offshore islands remained out of all contact “so we have still not got any word about casualties,” he said.

Power, water, sewage and communications were still disrupted in many northern areas, but a key airport at Labasa in northern Vanua Levu had reopened for emergency supply flights.

Troops have been deployed to provide relief, including food, water and basic supplies.

Anthony Blake, relief coordinator at the Disaster Management Office, said shelter was top priority after preliminary reports indicated Tomas had caused “extensive damage” to the Lau group and the northern island of Cikobia.

“The people are living in caves at the moment,” he said.

A New Zealand air force Hercules airplane that surveyed some northern areas found that “quite a few villages look like they have been hit pretty hard,” Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki told New Zealand’s Stuff news Web site.

Many homes had lost their roofs and some houses were destroyed, he said, adding that not many people were seen. “We think they have fled to safety inland,” Tamariki said.

Fiji’s commissioner for its northern region, Col. Inia Seruratu, who was on board the flight, said he was confident most people were safe since they had received plenty of warning.

——–Associated Press

Chile quake toll rises to 708

 

A collapsed bridge over the Claro river is seen near the town of Camarico, Chile on Saturday. An 8.8-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami killed more than 300 people in Chile.

The toll in the devastating earthquake in Chile has risen to 708, Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said.

The country was facing “a catastrophe of such unthinkable magnitude” and will need enormous efforts to recover, he said at a press conference Sunday, adding the fatalities may increase as the rescue efforts are continuing, Xinhua reported.

An earthquake measuring 8.8 on the Richter scale rocked Chile last Saturday, causing widespread destruction.

More than 300 dead in massive Chilean earthquake

A collapsed bridge over the Claro river is seen near the town of Camarico, Chile on Saturday. An 8.8-magnitude quake and a resulting tsunami killed more than 300 people in Chile

Chilean authorities were assessing the damage from a massive earthquake that killed more than 300 people, as Asian nations braced Sunday for the resulting tsunami that was still racing across the Pacific Ocean.
Hundreds of people were missing and feared trapped under the rubble of buildings that buckled under the force of the 8.8 magnitude quake, the strongest to hit the South American nation since 1960.
The earthquake occurred at 3:34 am (0634 GMT) Saturday, some 90 kilometres north—east of Concepcion, a city of 630,000 in Chile’s central coastal region.
Significant damage was reported in the capital Santiago, 320 kilometres north of the epicentre, affecting buildings, roads and closing the international airport.
Waves of 1.5 metres or less were reported in Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia. Comprehensive coastal warnings were issued in Japan, where the Chilean tsunami was expected Sunday afternoon with a height of up to 3 metres, and coastal residents on the Philippines Pacific shores fled for high ground in fear of the waves.
Some coastal areas of Chile were quickly struck by a post—quake wave, devastating some communities.
A wall of water swept across the Chilean island of Robinson Crusoe, 670 kilometres off the coast. Three people were reported missing on the island.
President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of disaster in the worst—hit regions south of Santiago. “I have no doubt that we will make it through this,” she said in a nationally televised address.
Sebastian Pinera, who takes over from her as head of state on March 11, appealed for solidarity.
The death toll rose throughout Saturday, reaching more than 300 by sundown. Authorities warned that more fatalities were likely.
In Conception, 150 people were feared trapped in a fallen, 14— storey apartment block.
“From the street we can hear the screaming of those who were caught under the new, 14—floor building,” one man said looking at the pile of rubble.
There were reports of unrest in one Santiago neighbourhood over shortages of water and power outages.
Santiago’s international airport was ordered closed to incoming and outgoing flights for at least three days, with a collapse reported in the terminal building. The city’s underground rail network was also closed.
Overturned cars littered motorway flyovers, which buckled and crumbled during the quake.
Power lines were down, water supplies were cut and burst gas pipes raised fears of explosions. Internet communications were disrupted and mobile phone networks badly damaged.
In Concepcion, damage was widespread. The offices of the region government were reported to have been destroyed, and the walls of the city’s prison collapsed, with hundreds of convicts reported to have escaped.
Chilean television showed footage of collapsed hospitals, burning buildings and wrecked bridges.Modern, high—rise buildings in Santiago were relatively unscathed by the quake and the scores of aftershocks.
With Chile’s prosperity and seismic history, the country has for decades required new construction to conform to earthquake-zone engineering standards.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered “rapid assistance” if sought by Chile. In Washington, President Barack Obama offered to deploy US resources “should the Chilean people need our help.” The quake was 50 times more powerful than the one that claimed more than 200,000 lives on January 12 Haiti, said the head of the University of Santiago’s Seismological Institute, Sergio Barrientos.
The worst earthquake to hit Chile occurred in 1960, when a 9.5—magnitude quake and tsunami claimed 6,000 lives.

Chile Earth Quake Photos/Images/Pictures—Image Gallery(A Collection)

Second flood warning issued in the Vaigai

RAIN

UNUSUAL FURY: Copious water in the Vaigai after days of rains. However, the unusual water levels pose a threat to hundreds living in low-lying areas

 A second flood warning was issued as water levels in the Vaigai dam crossed 68.5 feet on Friday morning. People living in low lying areas along the banks of the river have been asked to move to safer places.

The Public Works Department will issue a third warning if the level crosses 69 feet. There was bright sunshine almost throughout the day and water, which was flowing over the causeways along the Vaigai in the city, receded. A high-level team of PWD officials, led by the Principal Chief Engineer, Jayaraman, inspected the work of removing weeds and strengthening of bunds in the Vaigai. The inspection follows a directive from the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, M. K. Alagiri, who visited the rain-hit areas in the city on Thursday, asking the officials to remove the weeds for smooth flow of water.

Body found

The body of a final year engineering student, M. Dhanasekarapandian (21) of K. Pudur, who accidentally fell into the river while crossing a causeway on Tuesday night, was found in the middle of the Vaigai near the ‘mayya mandapam’ in the morning. Teams of Fire and Rescue Services Department were deployed to search for the body.

Water level

Water level in the Periyar dam stood at 132.9 feet (full level 136 feet). It had an inflow of 2649 cusecs and discharge of 1418 cusecs. Water stood at 68.67 feet (71 feet) in the Vaigai dam on Thursday evening, with the reservoir registering an inflow of 2285 cusecs and discharge of 1260 cusecs. The combined Periyar-Vaigai credit was put at 7382 mcft by the PWD officials.Madurai recorded the highest rainfall of 66.4 mm in the region, followed by Edayapatti 50.6, Chittampatti 28.8, Kallandiri 16.8, Andipatti 6, Shanmuganadhi 3, Periyar dam 2, Pulipatti 2, Sathiyar dam 1.5, Thaniyamangalam 1.5, Peranai and Melur 1 each.A flood control room has been started at the Collectorate here to expedite relief and rescue operations in case of floods. Public can dial (0452) 2527239 to pass on information about flooding or seek help.

A meeting of officials of various departments was held at the Collectorate to take stock of the rain situation in Madurai district. The District Revenue Officer, Dinesh Oliver Ponraj, who chaired the meeting, asked the revenue officials to take up strengthening work wherever the bunds of water bodies were found to be weak. Revenue inspectors and village administrative officers were asked to report the rainfall situation and floods to the respective tahsildars who would file daily reports. All possible steps should be taken to prevent loss of lives in the event of floods. Officials were asked to coordinate with the police and fire and rescue service personnel while undertaking rescue and relief operations. Madurai Corporation officials were informed that they should keep schools and marriage halls free to accommodate people affected by rains. Health officials should undertake measures to prevent the outbreak of diseases.

The Government Rajaji Hospital would stock essential drugs in adequate quantity. The highways department staff was directed to undertake road repair and remove trees that fell on roads. Tamil Nadu Electricity Board employees should ensure that no loss of life was reported when live wires snapped, according to an official press release

Cyclonic storm to hit Gujarat, North Maharashtra this evening

 weather

Cyclonic storm ‘Phyan’ will hit South Gujarat and North Maharashtra by late this evening following a deep depression in the South East and adjoining Central Arabian Sea and fishermen have been warned against venturing into the sea, the weather office said.

The Depression, which developed yesterday, intensified into a cyclone early this morning and the system is likely to move North northeastwards and cross South Gujarat and North Maharashtra coast between Alibag (Maharashtra) and Valsad (Gujarat) by late this evening or night, the latest bulletin from the weather office said.

The sea will be very rough along and off Maharashtra and South Gujarat Coast and fishermen have been warned against venturing along the Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat coasts, it said.

Cyclonic storm over East Central Arabian Sea moved Northwards and lay centred at 0530 hours today over same area near latitude 16.0 degree North and longitude 71.5 degree East about 250 kilometers West northwest of Goa and 350 kms South southwest of Mumbai and 620 kms South southwest of Surat in Gujarat.

Sqaully winds reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph are likely along and off Maharashtra and South Gujarat coast during, Met Office said

Rain-related casualty in Tamil Nadu goes up to 71

Rain

Girls use a thermocol raft to reach their home at a flooded street in Chennai on Monday

The rain-related casualty in the State went up to 71 with the Nilgiris accounting for the death of 42 persons in the landslides.

Tirunelveli and Villupuram districts recorded the death of six persons each. The overall figure took into account those who died since October 1, a senior official of the Revenue department said.

An official release stated that the Nilgiris District Collector was directed to pay Rs. One lakh each to the families of the deceased. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi asked Ministers Veerapandi S. Arumugam and Pongalur N. Palanisamy to rush to the Nilgiris. Commissioner of Revenue Administration and Principal Secretary N. Sundaradevan and Additional Director General of Police (Law and Order) K. Radhakrishnan also left for the rain-hit district.

The services of the National Disaster Response Force had also been pressed in. The Chief Minister advised the officials to dispatch adequate strength of personnel from other departments such as Fire and Rescue Services, Health and Police, the official release said.

Dam breach in Kerala-Images

Moolathara--1

The flood waters released from Aliyar Dam gushing out of the breached right bank protection works of Moolathara Dam near Chittur on Sunday.

 Moolathara--2

The flood water gushing out of the opened shutters of Moolathara Dam on Sunday after its right bank protection works got breached in the flood water released from Aliyar Dam.

 Moolathara-3

The right bank protection works of Moolathara Dam washed out in the flood waters released from Aliyar Dam on Sunday.

 chittorpuzha

The flooding of Chitturpuzha due to the breach of the Moolathara right bank protection works due to the release of water from Aliyar Dam on Sunday.

 Nilampathi

The `Nilampathy bridge’ (Causeway) at Chittur that was submerged in the flood waters due to the breaching of the Moolatharam Dam right bank protection works on Sunday

124 dead, 60 missing in El Salvador flooding

 SALVADOR

Residents stand on a bridge that collapsed due to heavy rain in Zacatecoluca, El Salvador on Sunday, Nov. 8 , 2009

 Mud and boulders loosened by heavy rains swept down a volcano and partly buried a small town on Sunday, swallowing up homes as flooding and landslides across El Salvador killed at least 124 people

Mud and boulders loosened by heavy rains swept down a volcano and partly buried a small town on Sunday, swallowing up homes as flooding and landslides across El Salvador killed at least 124 people, authorities said.

Hundreds of soldiers, police and residents dug through rock and debris looking for another 60 missing from the mudslide, which struck before dawn Sunday while people were still in their beds.

Matias Mendoza, 26, was at home with his wife Claudia and their year-old son, Franklin, when the earth began moving.

“It was about two in the morning when the rain started coming down harder, and the earth started shaking,” Mendoza recalled. “I warned my wife and grabbed my son, and all of a sudden we heard a sound. The next thing I knew I was lying among parts of the walls of my house.”

“A few minutes later, I found my wife and my son in the middle of the rubble, and, thank God, we’re alive,” said Mendoza, who suffered cuts on his check that emergency workers stitched up.

Almost 7,000 people saw their homes damaged by landslides or cut off by floodwaters following three days of downpours from a low—pressure system indirectly related to Hurricane Ida, which brushed Mexico’s Cancun resort on Sunday before steaming into the Gulf of Mexico.

President Mauricio Funes declared a national emergency and said that he would work with the United Nations to evaluate the extent of the damage.

“The images that we have seen today are of a devastated country,” Funes said. “The damages are for the moment incalculable.”

Some of the worst damage was in the town of Verapaz, where mudslides covered cars and boulders two yards (meters) wide blocked streets.

The rain loosened a flow of mud and rocks that descended from the nearby Chichontepec volcano and buried homes and streets in Verapaz, a town of about 3,000 located 50 kms east of San Salvador, the capital.

“It was terrible. The rocks came down on top of the houses and split them in two, and split the pavement,” recalled Manuel Melendez, 61, who lived a few doors down from Mendoza. Both their homes were destroyed Sunday morning.

“I heard people screaming all around,” Melendez said.

There were 10 confirmed dead and about 60 missing in Verapaz, said Red Cross spokesman Carlos Lopez Mendoza said.

Amid a persistent drizzle, rescuers dug frantically for survivors with shovels and even their bare hands. But the search was made difficult by collapsed walls, boulders and downed power lines that blocked heavy machinery.

“What happened in Verapaz was something terrible,” said Interior Minister Humberto Centeno, who flew over the city Sunday to survey the damage. “It is a real tragedy there.”

At least 13 other people were killed in San Vicente province, where Verapaz is located.

Provincial Gov. Manuel Castellanos said workers were struggling to clear roadways and power and water service had been knocked out, and at least 300 houses were flooded after a river in Verapaz overflowed its banks, Lopez Mendoza said.

In San Salvador, authorities reported 61 dead. Lopez Mendoza said the toll included a family of four — two adults and two children — who were killed when a mudslide buried their home Sunday morning.

The remaining victims were buried by slides or carried away by raging rivers in other parts of the country, Vice Interior Minister Ernesto Zelayandia told The Associated Press.

The days of rain in El Salvador’s mountains were quickly funneled down into populated valleys.

Hurricane Ida’s presence in the western Caribbean may have played a role in drawing a Pacific low—pressure system toward El Salvador, causing the rains, said Dave Roberts, a Navy hurricane specialist at the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami.

He added, however, that “if there were deaths associated with this rainfall amount in El Salvador, I would not link it to Ida.”

Monsoon may continue to be vigorous over coastal areas

RAINS-TN

Vehicles wade through a flooded street in Chennai. According to Met Department, rains may continue to lash TN and Puducherry for the next two days..

 With a low pressure area over Kanyakumari and neighbourhood likely to become more marked, the northeast monsoon, which set in over the State on October 29, will continue to be vigorous over the coastal belt.

A trough from the low pressure area extends to west central Bay of Bengal across the Gulf of Mannar and southwest bay off the coast of Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh, according to a bulletin of the Met department on Saturday.

Thundershowers are likely to occur at most places over the coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and at many places over interior parts of the State on Sunday. Heavy rain at a few places with very heavy to extremely very heavy rains at isolated places is likely to occur over coastal parts of the State and Puducherry on Sunday and Monday.

During the 24-hour-period that ended at 8-30 a.m. on Saturday, the maximum amount of rainfall of 15 cm was recorded at Red Hills on the northern outskirts of the city. Chembarampakkam in the western fringes of the city received 14 cm; Ponneri – 13 cm and Madurantakam, Sholavandan and Cuddalore – 11 cm each.

A 40-year-old person in Alangulam taluk of Tirunelveli district died in the latest spell. A senior official of the Revenue administration here said though the death occurred on Thursday, it was just now reported to the authorities.

In the morning, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi discussed with Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin, Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathi and Principal Secretary (Finance) K. Gnanadesikan on the relief work to be carried out. Mr Stalin briefed him of his visit to northern and southern parts of Chennai earlier. Union Minister for Textiles Dayanidhi Maran and Chennai Corporation Commissioner Rajesh Lakhoni were present.

The Deputy Chief Minister, who visited T. Nagar and Choolai to inspect baling out of rainwater and went to a special medical camp at Ayodhya Kuppam, later told reporters that over the last three years, storm water drains were laid in the city at a cost of Rs. 81.76 crore for nearly 150 km. Silt was removed from the drains over the length of 996 km. As of now, there was no need to relocate people in camps in view of the baling out operations.

‘Deforestation, mining causing fevers’

 

Diseases also spread by wild animals venturing into human habitations: virologist

‘Dengue, viral fever, chicken guinea, Japanese encephalitis, etc are transmitted by sand fly’

Sand fly is vector of Chandipura virus which is carried by wild animals: M. Radhakrishna


KARIMNAGAR: The extensive mining operations, deforestation and entry of wild animals carrying virus into human habitations were stated to be some of the reasons for the outbreak of dengue and viral fever cases in Karimnagar district.

Quoting instances of outbreak of viral fever in Karimnagar district since 2003, M. Radhakrishna, a faculty member of the Department of Zoology, Kakatiya University, and specialist in virology, said that there was high incidence of viral fever cases in Karimnagar, Warangal and Khammam districts due to the deforestation, mining operations with the opening up of new stone and granite quarries and the subsequent increase of temperature and spread of virus from wild animals following their visits to human habitations.

Talking to The Hindu on Friday, he said that during the outbreak of mysterious fevers in the year 2003, which claimed several hundreds of children in the district, the National Institute of Virology, Pune, had identified it as Chandipura virus. The sand fly (phlebotomus) is its vector, which is abundant in the forests and carried by the wild animals into human habitations, he said.

Mr. Radhakrishna said that the sand fly-transmitted diseases ranged from dengue and viral fevers to chicken guinea, Japanese encephalitis and others. The decline in platelet counts would not confirm it as dengue fever and it could be viral fever also. He suggested that the virus should be first isolated by doing clinical tests.

Specialists’ visit

He suggested that the virologists from the National Institute of Virology should visit the district to track how the disease was caused. He suggested the people to use the insecticidal mosquito nets to protect themselves from mosquito bite and avoid spread of diseases.

Garden city Bangalore? 50,000 trees cut, more to go

Bangalore, Oct 30 (IANS) Garden city could soon become concrete city. Bangalore has lost around 50,000 trees in recent years to infrastructure development and nearly 300 more will soon go for the Metro rail project.

 Green

Environmentalists and citizens fear that rampant felling could cost the city its ‘green heritage’ tag. Their fear is supported by heaps of logs of axed trees and tree stumps dotting roads across Bangalore.

 ‘It’s sad to see so many trees being axed down in the name of development. I fell in love with Bangalore because of its green cover, but in recent times, trees are fast vanishing from its landscape,’ septuagenarian Praveen Mehta, a native of Punjab who has been settled here for two decades, told IANS.

 ‘Trees are Bangalore’s famed heritage. Please don’t let them vanish so fast,’ pleaded Mehta, a former government employee.

 As many as 279 more trees will soon be axed down for ‘Namma Metro’ – the upcoming metro rail in central Bangalore, specially near the legislative assembly building Vidhana Soudha and Central College roads.

 In the past two to three years alone, Bangalore has lost around 50,000 trees, felled for for developmental activities, states a report of the Environment Support Group (ESG), a Bangalore-based NGO and part of Hasiru Usiru (Greenery is Life), a conglomeration of community organisations.

 Hasiru Usiru has been at the forefront to protest the ‘illogical destruction’ of Bangalore’s greenery for developmental works.

 ‘Most of the trees dotting the Vidhana Soudha and Central College areas are as old as 150 years. They are our heritage. It takes years for a tree to grow and cutting them in a few hours in the name of development is not logical,’ said Vinay Sreenivasa, coordinator of Hasiru Usiru.

 The group now plans to send a memorandum to Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (BMRCL) to shelve its project in areas where they have to cut down a large number of trees.

 ‘If our memorandum is not honoured, then we will start our protest,’ said Sreenivasa.

 ‘It is sad that in spite of so many protests staged by us in the last few months, the government is yet to do anything to save the city’s trees. Bangalore was known for its vast tree cover. Most of the trees felled down in recent times have been part and parcel of Bangalore for over five decades,’ said Sreenivasa.

 According to different environment groups, BMRCL has axed a large number of trees at several places, including the Lalbagh Botanical Garden, considered the city’s green lung.

 According to environmentalists, not only has the city’s green beauty been destroyed due to developmental works, but the loss of green cover is also harming the Karnataka capital’s climate.

 ‘Bangalore’s weather is changing fast. Bangalore is no more pleasant as it was earlier. If trees continue to be chopped off rapidly, the city’s average temperature will rise by two-three degrees Celsius in the coming years,’ said environmentalist Yellappa Reddy.

Melting Himalayan glaciers endanger all of South Asia

 mount jomolhar

Mount Jomolhar the highest peak in Bhutan. Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Reports indicate that the melting of the Himalayan glaciers is threatening the kingdom of Bhutan, the impacts of which will adversely affect the entire South Asian region.

According to a report in Nature News, glaciers in the Himalayas are retreating faster than in any other part of the world and they could disappear completely by 2035. This puts the mountainous nation of Bhutan at a special risk. In an area smaller than Switzerland, it has 983 glaciers and 2,794 glacial lakes, some of which have burst to produce deadly glacial lake floods.

A nation without even its own helicopter, Bhutan lacks the resources to combat global warming. It is carrying out the work at Thorthormi glacier with the help of money from various international donors.

As the first nation to get adaptation money from the Least Developed Countries Fund, Bhutan is something of a pioneer among developing nations in their quest to adapt to a warmer future, and the struggles at Thorthormi glacier illustrate the enormous obstacles that adaptation efforts still face. It is only within the past decade that researchers realized that Thorthormi could pose a threat. Thorthormi’s ponds were expanding and merging to form larger bodies of water. The changes have been dramatic even in the past few months. “Just before we started our work here in July this year, that part of the lake was water,” said Karma Toeb, the project’s glaciologist and team leader, pointing down to a number of icebergs. “The ice blocks have been breaking off the mother glacier upstream,” he added.

According to Thinley Namgyel, the deputy chief environment officer at the National Environment Commission in Thimphu, “A few decades down the line, the glaciers will retreat and we are not sure what impact it will have on the economy.” But, the impacts of the melting of the Himalayan glaciers will reach far beyond Bhutan’s borders. The glacier-fed rivers that flow south from the Himalayas are the arteries of south Asia.

It is estimated that the retreat of glaciers will affect the water supply of roughly 750 million people across South Asia and China, according to Rajendra Pachauri, the chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Across Asia, there are countless cases like Thorthormi, where the needs are great and the resources scarce. Regarding the effects of climate change and their costs, “every single estimate that people have come up with has been exceeded by reality”, said Dr. Pachauri. “The impacts of climate change are clearly turning out to be much worse than what we had anticipated earlier,” he added.

‘Kerala to celebrate 25th anniversary of Silent Valley movement’

 

Forest Minister Benoy Viswom has said that the State government will organise a function in Palakkad on November 15 and 16 to mark the 25 th anniversary of the Silent Valley movement that set the stage for the environmental activism in the State.

Inaugurating a function to commemorate the late environmental activist John C. Jacob here on Sunday, the Minister said that environmental activists in and outside the State would participate in the environmental seminar and the subsequent gathering to be held in Palakkad on November 15 and 16. Union Minister of State for Environment and Forest Jairam Ramesh would attend the function, Mr. Viswom announced.

Describing the Silent Valley agitation as a major social movement that had helped creation of environmental awareness in the State, he said that the movement had highlighted certain vital issues concerning the ecology that were relevant amid the global concern about global warming.

750,000 children need help in flood hit Andhra, Karnataka

Andhra_floods_child2__7382e 

 

 Sending out a call for help, international NGO Save the Children estimates that around 7,50,000 children are in desperate need of clean water, medical care and food in the flood-hit districts of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

If help doesn’t reach fast, there is an imminent threat of an outbreak of diarrhoea and other water-borne diseases that will further risk the lives of millions of children and others, the NGO said.

“Thirteen per cent of all under-five children in Andhra Pradesh are already acutely malnourished. The high levels of acute malnutrition in this region mean that children are far more likely to die of diarrhoea and acute respiratory disease -the biggest killers of children in India,” Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children, said.

P. Raghu of ActionAid, another international NGO working for the flood victims in both Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, added: “Our flood rescue teams are overwhelmed. Thousands are still languishing without food and water.”

According to Save the Children, over 2,75,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, leaving behind everything. Two hundred villages have been completely submerged. “Children are most vulnerable in any emergency and the floods come on top of an already dire situation. This is a crisis on top of an emergency,” Mr. Chandy said.

“Around 3,50,000 children under five die annually of diarrhoea in India and this time we fear the worst. We need corporate houses, individuals, everyone to come forward to strengthen our efforts on the ground. Any little help that we receive will ensure that one more child will be safe, healthy and protected.”

.8,000 sq-km submerged in a day

 

Vijaywada, Oct. 6 — The furious river waters sheared for days through farmland and homes, inundating 20 lakh acres every day – Delhi five times over, or 13 cities the size of Mumbai. The Krishna rushed in from the Almatti dam in Karnataka and submerged 8,000 sq-km of land in a day. It now stands at the gates of the British colonial-era Prakasam Barrage in Andhra Pradesh next door, and a breach here could submerge vast swathes in the state’s rice-rich Krishna and Guntur districts. The Prakasam barrage is a key passageway for the Krishna, which meanders through Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh on way to the Bay of Bengal. On Tuesday, hundreds jostled here despite restrictions. Nearby, on a hillock, is the Kanaka Durga temple. People here believe that the day the idol is submerged, the entire city of Vijaywada will be washed away. If it does, it would be blamed on tardy cooperation between the two states. Until Saturday night, Andhra Pradesh did not evacuate people from the catchment of the Nagarjunasagar Dam as the Karnataka government assured that no more water would be released from its Srisalam dam. But as floodwaters poured in, gates were opened at Srisalam, worsening the situation. “There appeared to be a breakdown of communication between the two neighbouring states,” said a senior official of the National Disaster Management Authoritry (NDMA), speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. But technology might soon make up for government delays. NDMA member NVC Menon said that by 2012, people would be alerted about rising water within minutes of it being tracked by satellites. Sloth after natural disasters is a annual story in India, a flood prone nation where tackling flooding comes under the states’ domain and New Delhi’s financial assistance since 2007 of Rs 8,000 crore (Rs 80 billion) has shown few results. Then, there is the lack of accountability.

“In the last 60 years, not a single engineer has ever been charged or punished for mismanagement of these dams,” he said.

Hindustan Times

.Millions homeless as flood claims 260 lives in K’taka, AP

 

Even as the centre assured Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka that funds were not a constraint to rehabilitate the flood-ravaged people in the two states, fresh flooding inundated dozens of villages in Krishna and Guntur districts in Andhra Pradesh.

The rain and flood havoc that began Sep 30 in the northern districts of Karnataka and moved to engulf neighbouring areas in Andhra Pradesh have so far claimed around 260 lives in the two states and has left millions homeless.

According to an official statement, the toll in Karnataka is 206 and fifty-two deaths have been reported in Andhra Pradesh.

The Karnataka government has estimated the loss to property and crops at Rs.20,000 crore. Andhra Pradesh has put its losses at Rs.12,500 crore.

Apart from claiming 52 lives, the floods in Andhra Pradesh have affected over 1.6 million people in five districts. Half a million people are homeless.

In Karnataka, around 290,000 houses have been partially or fully damaged in around 1,500 villages and over 5,000 cattle have perished. About 660,000 people have taken shelter in over 1,600 relief camps.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sanctioned ex-gratia of Rs.100,000 each to the families of those killed in the floods in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Goa.

In a statement, the prime minister expressed grief over the loss of lives in the four states. The ex-gratia would be paid from the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to the next of kin of the deceased.

Centre also sanctioned Rs five crore to Goa as relief fund after its bordering Canacona taluka faced worst ever floods last weekend. Goa Chief Minister Digamber Kamat met

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi and apprised him of the situation.

After that a Central team will be sent to Goa to assess the damage. “The Prime Minister has assured Kamat maximum financial aid for the state,” the spokesman added.

Yahoo! India News