/ 23 June 2022

Shaken and sodden – some big natural disasters

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

La Niña – the weather pattern that brought the costliest floods we’ve ever seen and record levels of rainfall to parts of eastern Australia this year – might be showing herself out after overstaying her welcome… But other parts of the world are suffering through some notable natural disasters.

Afghanistan’s remote eastern Paktika province, where a major earthquake has killed at least 1,000 people. The magnitude 6.1 quake hit 4 districts during the early hours as people slept, and tremors were felt by people in Kabul (about 230km away) and in Pakistan and India (more than 500km away). The number of those injured is 1,500, and there is extensive damage to homes and buildings. Afghanistan is no stranger to earthquakes – its territory covers several fault lines, and regular seismic activity sees hundreds of deaths a year. Much of that is down to the rural areas where dwellings aren’t stable/well-built. Yesterday, a government spokesman said they “urge all aid agencies to send teams to the area immediately to prevent further catastrophe.”

Northeastern Bangladesh and India, where the worst floods in decades have killed more than 100 people. In Bangladesh, about 4 million people have been cut off and urgently need help. And across the border in India’s Assam state, 5 million people are caught up with the Brahmaputra river breaking its banks, leading to the submerging of villages, destroyed crops, and wrecking of homes. And in China, several southern and eastern provinces have seen floodwater levels break 50-year highs. More than 500,000 people have been evacuated in Guangdong, Guangxi and Jiangxi, with the city of Shaoguan – home to almost 3 million – one of the worst affected. A lot of rainfall in these areas during the monsoon/summer season (which typically begins in June) isn’t unusual. But this year, heavy downpours started across much of those regions in March, so the sodden ground means that flooding has been swift and severe.

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