Displaying items by tag: disaster
45 people were crushed to death and over 150 sustained injuries in Israel’s deadliest civilian disaster when a stampede broke out at a densely-attended celebration. Search and rescue authorities struggled to evacuate trapped people after some revellers slipped on steps, causing dozens more to fall over and be crushed. The police commissioner said the handling of the site was deeply flawed. On 3 May the Knesset held a memorial for the 45 victims of the Meron disaster. Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the special session. He was moved by his hospital visit to the injured, saying that Israelis, Jews and Arabs alike, have shown mutual responsibility and a huge heart in their response to the tragedy. ‘The families are not alone, and this is the most important thing.’ He vowed that the government would help them. and the incident would be investigated from every angle.
Kenya’s locust problem hasn’t gone away. In fact, Kenyans could see a third generation of the insects destroy vegetation across the country. This is the worst locust outbreak for the region in 70 years. Locusts have already caused a great deal of destruction in Kenya and surrounding countries this year. Favourable weather conditions could contribute to a return of the swarm. The last one found a route through the Rift Valley, the breadbasket of Kenya. They devastated everything that was green as they moved; they also left eggs to hatch later.
Yemen, currently home to the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, has millions of people extremely vulnerable to coronavirus. Even before the pandemic, 80% of Yemen’s population needed aid. The spread of coronavirus is difficult to track with very little testing. Sometimes the only way to assess the severity of an outbreak is by how busy the gravediggers are. In parts of Yemen gravediggers are overwhelmed. Coronavirus has caused a reduction in funding for aid programmes. The UN has been forced to close nutrition, hygiene and sanitation programmes (see). Doctors in Syria are preparing for ‘an explosion’ of coronavirus in large overcrowded settlements. Only 64% of hospitals are functioning due to shortages of trained staff. 70% of health workers have fled Syria. Awareness of coronavirus danger is extremely low in some areas, so food and medicine are prioritised for people in poverty, not soap and hygiene. See
On 27 June, amid a Europe-wide heatwave, a forest fire in Catalonia raged out of control, despite the efforts of hundreds of firefighters working through the night. It broke out on 26 June, and had destroyed over 10,000 acres by the next morning. Already thirty people have been evacuated from farmhouses, and the regional government warned that it could eventually devour 50,000 acres. It may have been caused by manure in a farm generating enough heat to explode and produce sparks. Much of Europe is gripped in a record-breaking heatwave that could send thermometers above 40 C (104 F).
On 25 January Brumadinho dam, at an iron ore mine in south-eastern Brazil, collapsed. This caused a sea of sludge to bury a workers’ cafeteria, homes, hotels, cars, buses, and a train. At the time of writing, the death toll is 99, with at least another 250 unaccounted for. 192 people were rescued alive. The chance of finding anyone alive now is minimal. Israeli engineers, doctors, and members of an underwater missions unit joined the search team. The Brazilian police arrested three employees of the giant mining company Vale, and two engineers working for a German company which inspected the dam last year. Many residents were evacuated as a safety measure. The first funerals were held on 27 January. Having a body to bury may be a twisted privilege, with hundreds of people buried and colossal challenges to find them. Greenpeace said it was ‘a sad consequence’ of lessons not learned by the government and mining companies.
Indonesia has ordered inspections on all its commercial Boeing 737-Max 8 planes, after one crashed into the sea minutes after taking off from Jakarta, with 189 people on board, on 29 October. There are no known survivors. Searchers have recovered debris, bodies and personal items. The flight recorder (‘black box’) has now been located, which may shed light on the mystery of why it crashed, considering that it was almost brand-new. It seems that the pilot asked to return to Jakarta airport before losing contact with air traffic control. A log obtained by the BBC showed the plane had experienced technical problems on the previous day. Indonesia, a vast archipelago, is heavily reliant on air travel but many of its airlines have a poor safety record.
Air traffic controller Anthonius Agung died after waving out the last flight from Palu airport on 28 September (see). He was one of the first casualties of a disaster that has taken at least 1,407 lives, injured many thousands more, and left most of the 350,000 residents homeless when a 7.5 magnitude earthquake struck the island of Sulawesi. It triggered a ten- metre, 400mph tsunami that dragged cars, trees, houses, boulders, logs and mud inland. Three days later, Mount Soputan erupted, spewing ash clouds that make air flights hazardous. Clinics have no power and low medical supplies. Many communities have received no aid at all; other areas are experiencing looting. The tension is palpable with fights breaking out for food. Unless the government and agencies can deliver aid, there is a risk that tensions could spill over. Bridges must be repaired and roads restored before essential aid can reach points of need. Boats from other islands are delivering food, water and medicine.
Hurricane Florence reached the Carolinas on 14 September. For days the president has been tweeting, ‘Be prepared, be careful, be SAFE’. Two years ago a category 1 storm caused $10.6 billion in flood damage and killed 25 people in the Carolinas. Florence is a category 2 storm with expected category 4 storm surges. It is moving slowly, and coastal areas could experience hurricane-force winds and hurricane conditions for 24 hours or more. Once it moves inland, flooding risk increases, with up to 25 inches of rain forecast (more in some areas). Residents were warned to evacuate not only for their safety, but for the safety of first responders. Pray for homeowners, farmers and businesses contending with a major flooding event; for the safety of first responders; for reliable electricity supplies to hospitals and emergency stations; and for the frail, vulnerable and elderly to be cared for, reassured, and made comfortable.
Monsoon flood waters have receded in Kerala after the worst monsoon rains in a century, allowing authorities to retrieve the bodies of victims and enabling residents to start assessing the damage to their homes. But it is feared that thousands of people are still trapped in the worst-hit areas. Pray for regular supplies of clean drinking water and electricity to be distributed quickly and fairly to the state’s 33 million residents. Pray for the thousands of army, navy and air force personnel still searching for survivors and delivering food, medicine and water to those stranded in remote, hilly areas cut off by damaged roads and bridges. Pray for the 1,028,000 people sheltering in 3,274 relief camps. Disinfectants in adequate quantities are needed to prevent water-borne diseases. Pray for more paramedics to be available to advise and give medical aid. The government said it needs hundreds of thousands of electricians, plumbers and carpenters to bring Kerala back to normality. See
Efforts continue to extract a Thai youth football team (aged 11-16) and their 25-year-old coach from a flooded cave in Thailand. Water is being pumped out and officials hope the lowered water levels will mean the boys could keep their heads above water and not rely on scuba apparatus to escape the cave in which they have been trapped for 12 days. Rescuers are battling against the clock to beat monsoon rains expected on 7 July. At the time of writing (5 July) the water levels have reduced by around 40% but parts of the passageway leading to where the boys and coach were found are still flooded all the way to the ceiling - leaving diving out of the cave the only option for survival if the water levels are not reduced quickly. They want to reduce the water enough for them to scramble out, walk and perhaps do a little diving.