HDWN #62

September 1, 2023
3-5 minutes

Tropical storm Franklin in the Dominican Republic

Tropical storm Franklin made landfall near the town of Enriquillo in the province of Barahona, on the Caribbean coast of the Dominican Republic, on August 23, 2023. It then headed north, causing extensive flooding and landslides.

According to information from the Dominican Republic's National Meteorological Office (ONAMET), in the 24 hours ending August 22, several regions recorded rainfall in excess of 150 mm. Among the records, Enriquillo recorded 240.8 mm of rainfall, while Polo, located in the same province of Barahona, recorded 190 mm. Winds reached a maximum speed of 65 km/h, accompanied by more intense gusts. The storm was moving northwards at a speed of 20 km/h.

Faced with this situation, the Dominican Republic authorities took preventive measures, closing schools, government institutions and several airports. In addition, some 25 of the country's 31 provinces were placed on red alert. On Wednesday morning, heavy rainfall caused more than 40 aqueducts to go out of service, affecting more than 830,000 customers due to water supply interruptions. Flooding, landslides and wind damage damaged a total of 2,760 roads, isolating at least 6 communities.

As of Thursday August 24, two deaths and one missing person had been recorded, with 678 households affected by the heavy rains. The storm also left 351 people homeless.

Deadly rains in Niger

Since July, Niger has been plagued by intense rainfall, triggering major flooding with tragic consequences.

According to the Ministry of Humanitarian Action, up to August 18, the floods have caused the death of 27 people across the country, while 30 others have been injured. The hardest-hit regions include Maradi in the centre-south, Zinder in the centre-east and Tahoua in the west.

The human toll is all the more alarming given that 71,136 people in 8,458 households are now affected by the disaster. Material damage is considerable, with 6,530 houses having been destroyed by the floodwaters.

Niger continues to face the devastating consequences of the torrential rains that began in July, causing catastrophic flooding and endangering the lives and property of people in various parts of the country.

Torrential rains in China

Following the heavy rains that hit southwest China last week, state media reported that four people lost their lives and 48 others are missing. The storms triggered major flooding, notably engulfing a steel processing site where over 200 people were working.

These events were preceded by heavy rains on August 21 in the mountainous county of Jinyang, Sichuan province, but no damage toll had been reported.

These incidents are part of a series of extreme weather events in China, attributed by scientists to climate change. In July, at least 78 people lost their lives in a violent storm and major flooding in the north of the country, following the passage of typhoon Doksuri.

Flooding in Pakistan

In eastern Pakistan, extensive flooding forced the evacuation of 100,000 people due to rising waters on the Sutlej river, shared by Pakistan and India. Torrential monsoon rains have caused catastrophic flooding, submerging hundreds of villages in Punjab province. The damage is considerable, with thousands of hectares of farmland devastated and villages rendered inaccessible by land due to breached dykes.

According to the Pakistani authorities, part of the responsibility for the flooding lies with India, which is accused of having released a large volume of excess water from its reservoirs along the Sutlej, triggering flooding downstream on the Pakistani side. Following heavy monsoon rains that caused flooding, India released almost 85,000 cubic meters per second of excess water into the Sutlej on Sunday, according to Mohsin Naqvi, head of the Punjab government.

Relief operations are underway to help the affected population, involving the use of boats to evacuate people and animals. However, the situation remains critical, especially as further monsoon rains are forecast for the region. Since the start of the rainy season in June, Pakistan has already recorded 175 flood-related deaths.

Fires in Greece

Since Tuesday August 22, Greece has been confronted with a new series of deadly fires, marking the second wave in just one month. The fires have already claimed two lives and forced many residents from their homes.

The uncontrollable flames have spread to the north-east of the country, affecting the islands of Evia near Athens as well as Kythnos. The Boeotia region north of Athens was also affected, with dangerous conditions characterized by high winds and temperatures reaching 41°C.

Firefighters are dealing with nine active blazes, creating a situation similar to that experienced in July, when the previous wave of fires resulted in five deaths. To cope with this new series of fires, firefighters have ordered the evacuation of a district north of Athens threatened by flames.

The fires have had a tragic impact, particularly with the deaths of 19 suspected migrants, including two children, in the northern region of Evros, near the Turkish border. The Dadia National Park, home to various species of birds of prey, is also engulfed in flames. Despite these challenges, firefighting continues as the authorities strive to bring this critical situation under control.

On Sunday August 27, the European observatory Copernicus (EMS) estimated on X that the fire had already ravaged "77,000 hectares".

On Tuesday August 29, a spokesman for the European Commission declared that Greece was facing "the biggest fire ever recorded in the European Union". He pointed out that the EU's twenty-seven members were currently mobilizing almost half of their joint air resources to support the efforts. Eleven aircraft and one helicopter from the European fleet have been sent to help Greece fight the flames in Dadia National Park, in the north-east of the country.

According to the Greek Prime Minister, the areas burnt this summer "will exceed" 150,000 hectares.


Heavy rains in Tajikistan

Tajikistan's emergency authorities have announced that heavy rainfall on August 27, 2023 triggered major flooding and landslides in various areas of the country. Tajikistan's Emergency Situations Committee reported that these events occurred in several districts, including Dushanbe, Vahdat, Hisor, Rudaki, Varzob, Devashtich, Rasht, Sangvor and Tajikabad. These incidents caused numerous road closures and damage to residential buildings in the affected areas.

The human toll was tragic, with 21 deaths reported.  Flooding submerged 15 vehicles in Vahdat, where the loss of life was particularly heavy. Material damage was also considerable, with hundreds of farms evacuated and major damage to infrastructure, including a crucial bridge on the Dushanbe-Vahdat-Lakhsh-Saritosh highway.


Typhoon Saola in the Philippines and China

Flooding caused by super typhoon Saola has forced hundreds of people to flee in the north-east of the Philippines. Emergency services have reported that, for the moment, no casualties have been reported.

The typhoon first grazed the northeastern part of the island of Luzon, with winds of 185 km/h, 125 kilometers from Tuguegarao, a town with a population of around 160,000. Four Cagayan towns saw the evacuation of 388 people due to flooding, while two other towns were threatened by rising waters.

However, it intensified rapidly as it entered the Luzon Strait. In a short space of time, it went from a medium-sized cyclone to a super typhoon, generating wind gusts of up to 300 km/h near its center.

This Friday, August 01, the powerful typhoon Saola is moving towards southern China and Hong Kong. In response to this threat, Hong Kong has taken precautionary measures, closing its stock exchange and schools, and canceling incoming and outgoing flights. At around 2:40 a.m., a warning of level T8, on a scale of 10, was issued by Hong Kong's financial center. Wind speeds reached 205 km/h, while Typhoon Saola was 230 km east-southeast of Hong Kong at around 8.00 am local time.

With a population of 17.7 million, Shenzhen announced the closure of its establishments from 4:00 p.m., as well as the suspension of public transport from 7:00 p.m., in anticipation of the expected severe weather conditions. The emergency management department warned that the typhoon could cause severe storms in the city.