Archive for the ‘Natural Disasters’ Category

IFRC: In 2013, deaths by natural disasters were 80% down from average

October 19, 2014

The “climate change” brigade would have us believe that every storm, every hurricane, every incidence of heavy rain and every blizzard is an unprecedented event and due to man-made global warming (which in turn, they would have us believe, is primarily due to the combustion of fossil fuels).

But they are denied by the numbers.

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has published its “World Disasters Report 2014”. They compile data for both natural and technological disasters. Last year (2013) saw deaths by natural disaster at very low levels (22,452) and about 20% of the decadal average (97,954). Regarding natural disasters they say:

According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), 337 disasters related to natural hazards and 192 related to technological hazards (typified hereafter as “natural disasters” and “technological disasters”) were reported worldwide in 2013. The number of natural disasters was the lowest of the decade. As regards technological disasters, their number was the second lowest of the decade, almost half the number in 2005, the peak year of the decade.

Floods remain the most frequent natural disasters. Storms were the second most frequent, but the number of events in 2013 was slightly higher than the decade’s average.

The number of deaths caused by natural disasters (22,452) is almost 80 per cent below the average for the decade (97,954), much lower than the peak years of 2004 (242,829 deaths), 2008 (235,272 deaths) and 2010 (297,728 deaths).

IFRC Deaths by natural disaster

IFRC Deaths by natural disaster

Monetary losses are dominated by the effects of earthquakes and tsunamis – when they occur. Windstorm deaths are also sporadic. Floods are more regular.

IFRC Monetary Losss by disaster type

IFRC Monetary Losss by disaster type

Landslides in Hiroshima kill 39, with 7 missing

August 21, 2014

Heavy rain has caused landslides in Hiroshima prefecture in Japan killing at least 39 people including some children with at least a further seven missing.

Hiroshima landslides August 20, 2014 – image Reuters/Japan Times

Japan Times:

The landslides and flooding triggered by torrential rain overnight Wednesday that engulfed residential areas in Hiroshima so far have left 39 people confirmed dead and seven remained missing, and more Self-Defense Forces personnel have been sent in to join the search and rescue effort.

The government boosted the number of SDF personnel deployed for rescue operations to 600 to continue operations through the night. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was taking his summer vacation, cut short a game of golf to return to his office in Tokyo to deal with the disaster.

In Asakita Ward, Hiroshima, one of the hardest-hit areas, a record 217.5 mm of rain fell in the three hours from 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. The city of Hiroshima started issuing evacuation advisories at 4:15 a.m., but an official admitted the action was late.

Japan is perhaps more susceptible to natural disasters than many other parts of the world. Thoughts turn immediately to the 2011 Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. As of February this year the earthquake and tsunami had claimed 15,889 lives with another 2,609 people unaccounted for and presumed dead. A total of 18,498 deaths.

Even though the nuclear plant at Fukushima actually survived the earthquake but could not cope with the tsunami, it is the incident at the Fukushima nuclear plant which still gets all the headlines and lives on in the collective memory. The 18,498 deaths caused by the earthquake and tsunami are somehow pushed aside by the fears engendered by Fukushima. There was considerable radiation leakage but not a single person was killed at Fukushima. Fears outweigh reality.

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident which followed the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, was about the worst accident that could have happened in a nuclear plant. Hydrogen explosions occurred in the outer containment casings of 2 of the 6 reactors and meltdown of 2 of the cores also took place. A nuclear plant is not a nuclear bomb and a chain reaction leading to an explosion is not a real possibility. It is meltdown of the cores which is the bottom line.

Yet there were no deaths. As the official report from May (2013) this year said:

 No radiation-related deaths or acute effects have been observed among nearly 25,000 workers (including TEPCO employees and contractors) involved at the accident site.

It was the earthquake and tsunami which did the damage, caused some 18,000 deaths  and which led to the nuclear accident. But radiation from the nuclear accident has caused no deaths. And the radiation will cause no deaths.

Why – in terms of media response, knee-jerk government responses and general hysteria – does the awful reality of the earthquake and tsunami get dwarfed and swamped by alarmist but unreal fears? It is as if the nuclear incident had caused the earthquake and tsunami rather than the other way around. It cannot just be due to a fatalistic acceptance of natural catastrophes.

Even with man-made – and therefore presumably avoidable – events, we seem able, after it  has happened, to put even genocide and brutality and several thousands killed to one side and move on. Unless there is a personal connection to the disaster we just file it in our minds in the “Disasters” folder and carry on. Perhaps it is human imagination at work. As long as a risk is unrealised the potential damage is unlimited and we are free to – and we do –  imagine the most unimaginable catastrophes. Once a risk materialises then – no matter how large the disaster – it is finite and capped.

The fear of even an infinitesimal probability of an infinite risk seems to weigh more heavily in the human consciousness than the most awful – but finite – disaster that has occurred. Which insurance companies are very thankful for.

Washington mud-slide tragedy – a catalogue of stupidities?

March 26, 2014

The landslide tragedy in Washington State has killed at least 16 and perhaps up to 24 people. I had first thought that it was another natural disaster to be compared to volcano eruptions or earthquakes or hurricanes. In fact it was a minor earthquake (magnitude 1.1) on 10th March which may have contributed to this landslide but which was probably not the trigger.

But then I came across this article yesterday in The Seattle Times. The area devastated has seen many landslides in the past. Just in modern times, landslides occurred in 1949, in 1951, in 1967 and most recently in 2006. Yet people continued living and building new homes on a hill known as “Slide Hill”.  How did such building get permitted? And I wonder why we so readily abandon common sense; on the one hand in ignoring real and present and immediate dangers as in this case; or on the other in wasting billions on theoretical and imagined dangers in the far distant future as with “global warming.

And if all that the Seattle Times reports is correct, then this was not a natural disaster but one caused by plain stupidity. It reads like a catalogue of stupidities – but that does not make the tragedy of lives lost any the less:

  • The hill that collapsed last weekend is referred to by geologists with different names, including Hazel Landslide and Steelhead Haven Landslide, a reference to the hillside’s constant movement. Some residents, according to a 1967 Seattle Times story, referred to it simply as “Slide Hill.” …….. the two creeks in the area are known as “Slide Creek” and “Mud Flow Creek.
  • Since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled during the weekend in Snohomish County have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, warning of “the potential for a large catastrophic failure.”
  • Daniel Miller, a geomorph­ologist, also documented the hill’s landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. He knows the hill’s history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. That’s why he could not believe what he saw in 2006, when he returned to the hill within weeks of a landslide that crashed into and plugged the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River, creating a new channel that threatened homes on a street called Steelhead Drive. Instead of seeing homes being vacated, he saw carpenters building new ones. “Frankly, I was shocked that the county permitted any building across from the river,” he said.
  • …. John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, said at a news conference Monday. “It was considered very safe,” Pennington said. “This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere.”
  • At least five homes were built in 2006 on Steelhead Drive, according to Snohomish County records. The houses were granted “flood hazard permits” that required them to be jacked up 1 to 2 feet above “base flood elevation,” according to county building-permit records. Another home was built in the neighborhood in 2009. Snohomish County Executive John Lovick and Public Works Director Steve Thomsen said Monday night they were not aware of the 1999 report. 
  • In 1969, a geologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, Gerald Thorsen, submitted a memorandum after visiting the site of the slide. He explained that “aerial photographs taken as far back as 1932 show the river has cut at this clay bank for many years.”
  • In 1962, the state installed a “revetment” — a sort of rock barrier — to try to protect and support the riverbank. But oozing mud “overtopped” the barrier two years later. In 1967 the barrier was buried when a massive slide hit, damaging dozens of homes.
  • An investigation done in the 1980s said the landslide activity had expanded from 10 acres in 1942 to 35 acres in 1970.

It would seem to be a natural consequence of allowing alarmism to flourish unchecked that common sense is abandoned. Real dangers in the immediate future are ignored and imaginary ones in the far distant future are inflated.

Mount Sinabung gets deadly as sightseers return

February 1, 2014

Mount Sinabung which has been erupting since September last year, has caused the first fatalities reported. It erupted again on Saturday ejecting rocks and ash and killing 14. The evacuation zone which extended upto 7km from the mountain has been relaxed to 5km, but the 14 people killed were all from the Suka Meriah village which is within 3km of the volcano. A group of sightseeing schoolchildren is reported to be among those killed. Another 3 people were severely injured when  apparently they had been visiting a family grave and their abandoned homes when the volcano spewed its ash.

On Friday the disaster management agency had allowed people living in villages more than 5km from the mountain to return home. Sixteen villages have been evacuated and residents are not supposed to visit for any reason.

The first eruption occurred at 10:30 a.m. and lasted for eight-and-a-half-minutes, spewing 2-kilometer ash and 4.5-km thick clouds to the south. The second eruption took place at 10:38 a.m. for just over four minutes, followed by another eruption at 11:27 a.m. for 84 seconds.

A villager run as Mount Sinabung erupt at Sigarang-Garang village in Karo district, Indonesia's North Sumatra province, February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

A villager run as Mount Sinabung erupt at Sigarang-Garang village in Karo district, Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, February 1, 2014.
CREDIT: REUTERS/STRINGER

Sources: Jakarta Post, BBC, Reuters

Related: 5 km radius around Mount Sinabung volcano evacuated as eruptions continue

The next VEI 5+ volcanic eruption is overdue

Supervolcanos can erupt sponataneously without an external trigger

January 7, 2014

New research suggests that supervolcanos do not need an external trigger to erupt. Bouyancy effects and the magma volume could be sufficient for spontaneous eruption.

Wim J. Malfait, Rita Seifert, Sylvain Petitgirard, Jean-Philippe Perrillat, Mohamed Mezouar, Tsutomu Ota, Eizo Nakamura, Philippe Lerch, Carmen Sanchez-Valle. Supervolcano eruptions driven by melt buoyancy in large silicic magma chambersNature Geoscience, 2014; DOI:10.1038/ngeo2042

From the Press Release:

Scientists have reproduced the conditions inside the magma chamber of a supervolcano to understand what it takes to trigger its explosion. These rare events represent the biggest natural catastrophes on Earth except for the impact of giant meteorites. Using synchrotron X-rays, the scientists established that supervolcano eruptions may occur spontaneously, driven only by magma pressure without the need for an external trigger. The results are published in Nature Geosciences.

A well-known supervolcano eruption occurred 600,000 years ago in Wyoming in the United States, creating a huge crater called a caldera, in the centre of what today is Yellowstone National Park. When the volcano exploded, it ejected more than 1000 km3 of ash and lava into the atmosphere, 100 times more than Mt Pinatubo in the Philippines did in 1992. Big volcanic eruptions have a major impact on the global climate. The Mt Pinatubo eruption decreased the global temperature by 0.4 degrees C for a few months. The predictions for a super volcano are a fall in temperatures by 10 degrees C for 10 years.

Abstract: Super-eruptions that dwarf all historical volcanic episodes in erupted volume and environmental impact are abundant in the geological record. Such eruptions of silica-rich magmas form large calderas. The mechanisms that trigger these super-eruptions are elusive because the processes occurring in conventional volcanic systems cannot simply be scaled up to the much larger magma chambers beneath supervolcanoes. Over-pressurization of the magma reservoir, caused by magma recharge, is a common trigger for smaller eruptions, but is insufficient to generate eruptions from large supervolcano magma chambers. Magma buoyancy can potentially create sufficient overpressure, but the efficiency of this trigger mechanism has not been tested. Here we use synchrotron measurements of X-ray absorption to determine the density of silica-rich magmas at pressures and temperatures of up to 3.6 GPa and 1,950 K, respectively. We combine our results with existing measurements of silica-rich magma density at ambient pressures to show that magma buoyancy can generate an overpressure on the roof of a large supervolcano magma chamber that exceeds the critical overpressure of 10–40 MPa required to induce dyke propagation, even when the magma is undersaturated in volatiles. We conclude that magma buoyancy alone is a viable mechanism to trigger a super-eruption, although magma recharge and mush rejuvenation, volatile saturation or tectonic stress may have been important during specific eruptions.

Supervolcanos do not occur all that often – perhaps one every 50,000 to 100,000 years. When they do occur they devastate a large geographical area and affect the climate for a decade or so. How much destruction of organic life occurs depends on the geographical area affected and the life that is extant there.

New Zealand’s Taupo Volcano was the most recent and erupted about 26,500 years ago. With a VEI of 8, just over 1,000 kmof ash were ejected. Though modern man had reached Australia by then, the effects of this eruption do not seem to have significantly delayed the march of humans. The Toba eruption 74,000 years ago occurred when the total population of all human species (Modern Humans, Neanderthals, Denisovans …..) was between 1 and 10 million. This eruption is also classified as a VEI of 8 and 2,800 km³ of material was ejected. Life was virtually extinguished from India to South East Asia. The effects were devastating not only in the fall out-zone but also – it seems – in hampering the expansion of modern humans out of AfricarabiaThis eruption may thus have caused one of the critical bottlenecks which has determined the subsequent evolution and expansion of humans. 

Image

Toba Fallout (Smithsonian Institute)

While a supervolcano could erupt at any time, it is much more probable to occur than a major asteroid collision with the earth (one in 100,000 years as opposed to once in tens of millions of years). But the volume of magma involved suggests that some early detection (perhaps 5 -10 years) may be possible. For the pressure to build up sufficiently in such a volume a significant bulging of the earth’s crust is likely and should be detectable. But while science fiction can imagine a battery of nuclear warheads to divert an oncoming asteroid in its trajectory, it is difficult to conceive of any way to prevent a supervolcano from erupting. Geo-engineering on a  scale massive enough to relieve some of the pressure in the magma is just conceivable at the edge of fantasy but even that could not prevent the eruption.

The next VEI 5+ volcanic eruption is overdue

November 26, 2013

As Indonesia raised the warning level for the Mount Sinabung eruption it is worth noting that the last volcanic eruptions of  5 or greater on the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scale were the 1991 eruptions of Mount Pinatubo (VEI of 6) and Mount Hudson (VEI of 5).

The currently ongoing Mount Sinabung eruption (pictures here) gives cause for concern, as all Indonesian volcanoes do, but there is no certainty as to what intensity it may finally reach:

Jakarta Post: The volcanic ash spewed by Mount Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra, disrupted a number of flights from Kuala Namu International Airport in Deli Serdang regency on Sunday.
In Bandung, the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) increased the volcano’s status to “awas” (beware), the highest level of the four-level alert system.

During the 19th century VEI eruptions of 5 or greater ocurred every 11 years on average with the Krakatoa eruption being the greatest at VEI 6 in 1883. Through the 20th century, an eruption of intensity 5 or greater came at intervals varying from 1 year upto 23 years with an average interval of just under 7 years. The Novarupta (1912) and Mount Pinatubo (1991) eruptions were the two classified at VEI6. 

  • 1902 Santa Maria
  • 1907 Kudach
  • 1912 Novarupta
  • 1913 Colima
  • 1918 Katla
  • 1932 Cerro Azul
  • 1933 Kharimkotan
  • 1956 Bezymianny
  • 1963 Mount Agung
  • 1980 Mount St. Helens
  • 1982 El Chichón
  • 1991 Mount Pinatubo
  • 1991 Mount Hudson

So far in this century the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull eruption in Iceland “only” reached a VEI intensity of 4. The 2012 Mt. Etna eruption was rated a 3+. 

The last VEI 5 level eruption was in 1991 and a major eruption of intensity 5 or greater is now  overdue. The interval of 22 years is almost as long as the longest interval between major eruptions in the 20th century. Of course even VEI 6 is still a great deal less than the VEI 8 of Toba or Yellowstone.

The VEI is an index taking both the volume of tephra ejected as well as the height to which it is ejected into account. While there is no evidence that the impact of volcanic eruptions is more than a temporary perturbation of the underlying climate cycle, these perturbations may well last a year or two. The effect on climate is usually that of cooling.

The most significant climate impacts from volcanic injections into the stratosphere come from the conversion of sulfur dioxide to sulfuric acid, which condenses rapidly in the stratosphere to form fine sulfate aerosols. The aerosols increase the reflection of radiation from the Sun back into space, cooling the Earth’s lower atmosphere or troposphere. Several eruptions during the past century have caused a decline in the average temperature at the Earth’s surface of up to half a degree (Fahrenheit scale) for periods of one to three years. The climactic eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991, was one of the largest eruptions of the twentieth century and injected a 20-million ton (metric scale) sulfur dioxide cloud into the stratosphere at an altitude of more than 20 miles. The Pinatubo cloud was the largest sulfur dioxide cloud ever observed in the stratosphere since the beginning of such observations by satellites in 1978. It caused what is believed to be the largest aerosol disturbance of the stratosphere in the twentieth century, though probably smaller than the disturbances from eruptions of Krakatau in 1883 and Tambora in 1815. 

But an eruption of VEI 5 or greater within the next year or two could well accelerate the underlying global cooling cycle that may be underway (and caused primarily by solar effects – direct and indirect).

The diagram below comes from a guest post by Dan Pangburn at The Hockey Schtick.

Global temperature anomaly and major volcanic eruptions

Fear of nuclear radiation is much worse than the reality

October 27, 2013

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident which followed the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, was about the worst accident that could have happened in a nuclear plant. Hydrogen explosions occurred in the outer containment casings of 2 of the 6 reactors and meltdown of 2 of the cores also took place. A nuclear plant is not a nuclear bomb and a chain reaction leading to an explosion is not a real possibility. It is meltdown of the cores which is the bottom line.

Yet there were no deaths. As the official report from May this year said:

 No radiation-related deaths or acute effects have been observed among nearly 25,000 workers (including TEPCO employees and contractors) involved at the accident site.

It was the earthquake and tsunami which did the damage, caused some 18,000 deaths  and which led to the nuclear accident. But radiation from the nuclear accident has caused no deaths. And the radiation will cause no deaths. The report goes on:

The additional exposures received by most Japanese people in the first year and subsequent years due to the radioactive releases from the accident are less than the doses received from natural background radiation (which is about 2.1 mSv per year). This is particularly the case for Japanese people living away from Fukushima, where annual doses of around 0.2 mSv from the accident are estimated, arising primarily through ingestion of radionuclides in food. …. 

Given the small number of highly exposed workers, it is unlikely that excess cases of thyroid cancer due to radiation exposure would be detectable. Special health examinations will be given to workers with exposures above 100 mSv including annual monitoring of the thyroid, stomach, large intestine and lung for cancer as a means to monitor for potential late radiation-related health effects at the individual level.

The assessment also concluded that although the rate of exposures may have exceeded the levels for the onset of effects on plants and animals several times in the first few months following the accident, any effects are expected to be transient in nature, given their short duration. In general, the exposures on both marine and terrestrial non-human biota were too low for observable acute effects.

The fears of radiation it would seem are completely out of proportion to the reality of damage actually done. The imagination gone wild of writers and movie scriptwriters, has fantasised about mutations and monsters but have had little basis in the history of both military and civil use of nuclear power. The psychological effects of the fears – apparently quite unfounded – have been orders of magnitude greater than the direct effects of any radiation. Japanese children in Fukushima have suffered more from obesity because they have been banned from playing outside than by any effects of radiation.

Perhaps the biggest disservice done by environmental groups is due to their propensity to exaggerate quite legitimate – but manageable – concerns to become Alarmism. Once the Alarmist phase is reached, rational behaviour is no longer possible.  But they have been calling “Wolf” for 3 decades and for far too long now. As catastrophe scenarios and doomsday predictions keep being pushed into the future, alarmist scenarios are increasingly being discounted. There is a beginning of a welcome  return to rationality.

David Ropeik writes in the New York Times:

It has been more than two and a half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began to unfold, and still the world watches events closely, fearfully. The drumbeat of danger seems never ending: Earlier this month, to take just one example, international news reports spread word that six workers at the plant had been accidentally doused with radioactive water.

Yet leading health scientists say the radiation from Fukushima has been relatively harmless, which is similar to results found after studying the health effects of Chernobyl. With all that evidence, why does our fear of all things nuclear persist? And what peril does that fear itself pose for society?

Our anxiety about nuclear radiation is rooted in our understandable fear of the terrible power of nuclear weapons. But in the 68 years since those weapons were first used in anger, we have learned, from the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki themselves, that ionizing radiation — the type created by a nuclear reaction — is not nearly the powerful carcinogen or genetic mutagen that we thought it was.

Beginning shortly after World War II, epidemiologists and radiation biologists began tracking atomic bomb survivors. Researchers have followed roughly 112,600 Japanese: 86,611 who had been within 10 kilometers of the center of the explosions, and 26,000 who were not exposed.

The most current analysis estimates that, out of 10,929 people in the exposed population who have died of cancer, only 527 of those deaths were caused by radiation from the atomic bombs. For the entire population exposed, in many cases to extremely high levels of radiation, that’s an excess cancer mortality rate of about two-thirds of 1 percent.

These studies have also found that, more than two generations later, there have been no multigenerational genetic effects on humans, Godzilla and the mutant giant ants in the 1954 film “Them!” notwithstanding. Fetal exposure in utero produced horrible birth defects, but no permanent genetic damage.

Perhaps most importantly, research on the bomb survivors has found that at lower doses, below 100 millisieverts, radiation causes no detectable elevations in normal rates of illness and disease. (Among several measures of radiation exposure, sieverts reflect the biological effects of radiation.) The vast majority of the doses received by people living near Fukushima or Chernobyl were well below this 100 millisievert threshold.

The robust evidence that ionizing radiation is a relatively low health risk dramatically contradicts common fears.

….

The World Health Organization’s 20-year review of the Chernobyl disaster found that its psychological impacts did more health damage than radiation exposure did, and a principle cause of the population’s debilitating stress was “an exaggerated sense of the dangers to health of exposure to radiation.”

Epidemiologists are already seeing the same things in Fukushima, where radiation exposures were far lower than at Chernobyl. Radiation biologists say the increased cancer risk from Fukushima will be so low it won’t change general cancer rates for that area, or Japan generally. (The World Health Organization predicts minor increases in rates of some cancers, for some ages and genders, in small pockets of more highly contaminated areas near the plant.)

Nonetheless, thousands of people are refusing to return to their homes and businesses in evacuated areas, even where dose levels have fallen low enough to declare those areas safe. Levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly elevated. One survey found that stress among children in the Fukushima area is double the level of other children in Japan.

And the Japanese Education Ministry reports that the children in Fukushima Prefecture have become the most obese in Japan since the nuclear accident prompted schools to curtail outside exercise, in most cases in areas where the risk from radiation was infinitesimal.

In India religion is more destructive than natural “disasters”

October 14, 2013

The headlines tell the tale.

Religion and caste and all that follows from them are more debilitating in Modern India than any “natural disaster”.

It is time to do away with the majority of temples and mosques and churches and shrines – and it would not be wrong to replace them with toilets!

1. 113 dead in Madhya Pradesh temple stampede, toll likely to rise

Hindustan Times  – ‎12 minutes ago‎
At least 113 people were killed and more than 100 injured in a stampede on a crowded bridge across Sindh river leading to Ratangarh temple in Datia district of northern Madhya Pradesh on Sunday.

2. Death toll rises to 21, floods affect thousands in Odisha

Firstpost  – ‎7 minutes ago‎
The death toll due to pre and post cyclone Phailin devastations has gone up to 21. One more death was reported late Sunday night, a senior government official told IANS. “The latest death took place in Balasore, where two people were drowning in flood …

3. Sexual assault case: Asaram to be taken to Ahmedabad today

IBNLive  – ‎1 hour ago‎
Jodhpur: Self-styled godman Asaram will be brought to Ahmedabad on Monday for questioning in another sexual assault case. The Jodhpur court has given permission to the Gujarat police to take him in custody for interrogation in the case filed by two sisters …

4. UP govt suspends senior IAS officer Mishra

indiatvnews.com  – ‎12 hours ago‎
Lucknow: A day after his transfer, senior IAS officer Sarvesh Chandra Mishra was today suspended and a departmental probe initiated against him over a controversial letter convening a meeting to discuss “reconstruction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya on lines …
 

5. No untouchability in politics, says Pawar

Indian Express  – ‎1 hour ago‎
NCP chief and Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar, speaking at a programme organised by BJP leader Nitin Gadkari’s Purti Group here on Saturday, said “there should be no untouchability in social and political spheres of life”.

Cyclone Phaelin makes landfall – Severe storm but not a Super Cyclone

October 12, 2013

UPDATE!

Saturday: 11:30pm IST: It has been some 3 hours since Phaelin made landfall as a Severe Cyclone but without the wind-speed to be classified as a Super Cyclone. The full effects will now not be known till morning but it would seem that up to 1 million people may have moved – or been moved – out of harms way.

It is too early to give way to optimism. But fingers are crossed that the evacuations and advance preparations have been successful and that fatalities will be orders of magnitude lower than in 1999 or 1991.

==============================================

Phaelin made landfall at about 8:20pm local time just south of Gopalpur, Odisha. The cyclone has slowed down and has veered a little Westwards. Windspeeds at landfall were reported to be around 200km/h.

Apart from 7 reported killed due to falling trees in the high winds, damage reports are not yet available.

Phaelin Landfall Googlemaps

Phaelin Landfall Googlemaps

Cyclone Phailin will test Indian preparedness

October 12, 2013

UPDATE!

Saturday 12th, 6:30pm Indian Standard Time: Landfall is expected at any time now. So far some 600,000 people have been evacuated or have moved out of harms way. It has been the largest evacuation in India for 23 years.

______

The Bay of Bengal is no stranger to severe weather and severe cyclonic storms occur almost annually. However super cyclones (corresponding to an Atlantic Category 5 Hurricane) occur every 10 -20 years. Fatalities (direct and indirect by subsequent disease) have been huge in this heavily populated area. Super cyclones are defined as having wind speeds in excess of 220km/h and the current Cyclone Phailin is on the edge of that level with winds currently at about 210km/h. The Indian Meteorological Depratment expects the wind speeds to stay at the 210-220 km/h level.

ToI: Foreign agencies claimed Indian authorities are underestimating Phailin, quoting London-based Tropical Storm and US Navy’s joint typhoon warning centre as forecasting winds up to 315 kmph. Indian agencies, however, said wind speeds are much lower.

Super or Severe Cyclone Phailin is expected to make landfall this evening (about 6pm local time Saturday 12th October) somewhere along the Odisha coast. Warnings have been issued and about 200,000 have been asked to evacuate their coastal homes. Relief personnel and police are on alert. The Army has been deployed in some areas. Some 200 tourists have been assisted to leave the area and tourist bookings have been cancelled for upto a week.

Large improvements in the early warning and relief infrastructure have taken place since the catastrophic death toll in the super cyclone of November 1970. But Cyclone Phailin could be the biggest test for Indian preparedness since 1999.

Major super cyclones the region have been:

The projected path of Tropical Cyclone Phailin towards India as of 11:30 a.m. ET on Oct. 10, 2013.

Yahoo News: Experts say that the enormous and powerful storm, with maximum sustained winds of more than 160 mph (260 km/h), will bring a “catastrophic” storm surge, the water that a storm’s winds push in front of it and that inundate a coastline as the storm makes landfall, said Hal Needham, a climatologist at Louisiana State University. The storm surge is expected to reach heights of 20 feet (6 meters), Needham told LiveScience. The storm is likely to be “as bad or worse” than a cyclone that followed a similar trajectory in 1999, called Odisha cyclone for the area it hit.

Times of India: Touching wind speeds of 210-220 km an hour, Cyclone Phailin is set to hit the Odisha coast between Paradip and Kalingapatnam with full fury on Saturday evening, whipping up a storm surge up to 10 feet above the tide level posing a threat to low-lying villages.

Anticipating the cyclone’s fury, the state government began Odisha’s biggest ever evacuation of shifting more than three lakh (300,000) people out of harm’s way as chief minister Naveen Patnaik promised there would be zero casualties. The evacuation is expected to be complete by Saturday morning.

Met sources said the cyclone’s exact landfall is likely to be around the popular beach destination of Gopalpur and coastal Odisha as well as inland areas are expected to receive heavy rainfall likely to last till Sunday.

Although the Met is not categorizing Phailin as a “super cyclone” as it is yet to cross the 220 kmph barrier, there is little doubt that Odisha was bracing for a battering with the storm reported just 400 km south east of Gopalpur at 9pm on Friday. ….

….. Ganjam district is likely to be worst-hit. Other coastal districts falling within 75 km radius of the eye of the storm would also be impacted. “The exact landfall destination of the cyclone can be known once it comes nearly 200 km from the coast. Phailin’s movement however indicates that the situation would not be like the 1999 super cyclone during which the storm lay stationery over the coastal areas for nearly 24 hours and caused a sea surge of about 30 ft. This time 10 ft high wave is expected. More so, the expected landfall area being hilly, the impact of the cyclone would be less and weaken quickly,” IMD Bhubaneswar centre director Sarat Sahu said.

Not leaving anything to chance, the state government began evacuating people from coastal districts of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapada. Those who refused to leave their homes were forcibly taken to safer places. “There are 247 cyclone shelters and 10,000 concrete schools identified to house the villagers. We want to complete the evacuation by Saturday morning, particularly in Ganjam district which is likely to bear the brunt of the cyclone,” special relief commissioner P K Mohapatra said.

The central government has dispatched 10 helicopters, four Cheetah helicopters and two MI-17 and AN-32 planes to help the state government in rescue and relief operations. The government’s measures notwithstanding, thousands of people from the coastal region were rushing to railway stations and bus stops to escape the cyclone.


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