Thursday, October 27, 2011

THAILAND - Locals flee as 'gigantic' floods threaten Bangkok. Tens of thousands of people jammed bus stations and highways to flee Thailand's capital as flood forecasts turned more grim and the first official evacuations were ordered. Floodwaters bearing down on the metropolis of nine million people have killed 373 people nationwide since July, caused billions of dollars in damage and shut Bangkok's second largest airport. The capital has mostly escaped unscathed, but residents are preparing for flooding that seems all but inevitable.
Bangkok's Governor said yesterday that residents of two of the city's 50 districts - Don Muang and Bang Phlat, both already partially submerged - should leave for safer city shelters. "This is the first time I am using the term 'evacuation', the first time I'm really asking you to leave." Elsewhere in the city, thousands of people packed Bangkok's Mo Chit bus terminal, trying to leave town on their own. Many appeared to be taking advantage of a government-declared five-day public holiday to avoid a possible watery siege. The holiday runs from Thursday through to Monday in flood-affected areas, including Bangkok. Some waited for hours on the sidewalk outside Mo Chit because there was no space inside the terminal, the main departure point for buses to Thailand's north. The mass exodus included thousands of migrants from neighbouring Myanmar, workers dependent on low-paying jobs so desperate to leave they are willing to brave a return to their intensely repressive nation to do so. Authorities were also forced to move hundreds of inmates from three prisons - many on death row - to facilities in other provinces.
Satellite maps of Bangkok showed a city almost entirely surrounded by water. Most of the vast pools of runoff now submerging a third of the country are flowing from the north toward Bangkok - southward toward the Gulf of Thailand. "The amount of water is gigantic. Some water must spread into Bangkok areas but we will try to make it pass through as quickly as possible." In the district of Sai Mai, on the capital's northern outskirts, waist-high water turned roads into virtual rivers and swamped gas stations and homes. Hundreds of residents clamoured aboard packed military trucks with their belongings, desperate to leave. But help was in short supply. Others got out any way they could - in paddle boats, plastic tubs, inner tubes and rubber rafts. Several men floated down a flooded road in a makeshift boat made of empty oil barrels tied to a rectangular plank.
As fears of urban disaster set in, some residents built cement walls to protect their shops and homes. Websites posted instructions on the proper way to stack sandbags. Many residents fortified vulnerable areas of their houses with bricks, gypsum board and plastic sheets. Walls of sandbags or cinderblocks covered the entrances of many buildings. Concern that pumps would fail prompted a run on plastic containers in which to hoard water. Anticipating worse, one woman travelling on Bangkok's Skytrain transit system carried a bag of life vests. On Tuesday, floods breached barriers protecting the capital's Don Muang airport, primarily used for domestic flights, in a major psychological blow to efforts to protect the capital. The country's main international airport is still functioning normally.
Panic has gripped parts of the city as more and more of it is affected by the advancing water. Residents stocking up on food and other necessities have emptied supermarket shelves, and stores have posted notices that flooding was disrupting supply chains and leaving them unable to restock certain items. The city's fate rests on three key flood barriers. "If the three spots ... remain intact, the situation will improve. However, in the worst case, if we can't protect all three spots, all of Bangkok will be flooded." The floods could range from 10cm to 1.5 metres deep in the capital.
The arrival of a massive deluge of water is imminent. The huge runoff from the north is equivalent to 480,000 Olympic swimming pools and is expected to reach the capital at the same time as seasonal high tides. "The floodwater has reached the inner city." The expected volume of water was put at 1.2 billion cubic metres. Adding to the deluged kingdom's woes are fears of crocodiles on the loose from flooded farms, another three were captured yesterday in Nonthaburi province, north of the capital.
Many supermarkets were running low on essential items such as bottled water and eggs as residents stocked up on goods ahead of the expected deluge, and the premier advised people to boil tap water before consuming it.

**It never rains but it pours.**
English proverb

This morning -

Yesterday -
10/26/11 -


INDONESIA - Mount Lokon Volcano Erupts In Central Indonesia, No Injuries Reported. The volcano in central Indonesia has erupted, spewing hot smoke and ash thousands of feet into the air. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage. Mount Lokon, located on northern Sulawesi island, had been dormant for years before rumbling back to life several months ago. It unleashed two strong eruptions at 5:19 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. They were preceded by several smaller blasts hours earlier. Mount Lokon is one of about 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 240 million people. Its last major eruption in 1991 killed a Swiss hiker and forced thousands of people to flee their homes.

Chile Orders Evacuation Near Rumbling Hudson Volcano - Chile's government has issued a red alert and ordered the evacuation of residents living within 25 miles (40 kilometers) of a rumbling volcano. 97 people living near the Hudson volcano will be evacuated and officals are not ruling out the possibility of an eruption. The Southern Andean Volcano Observatory says seismic activity related to the volcano increased starting early Tuesday night. The Hudson volcano lies 995 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Chile's capital, Santiago. It last erupted in August 1991, causing millions in damages to local farms and killing an estimated 1.5 million sheep. Chile has about 3,000 volcanos, 500 of which are considered geologically active. Precautionary evacuations are not uncommon.

In the Atlantic -
Category 1 Hurricane Rina was located about 120 mi (190 km) E of Chetumal, Mexico. A Hurricane Warning is in effect for the north-east Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. A tropical storm watch is in effect for the east and north coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula. The center of Rina will be moving near or over the East Coast of the Yucatan Peninsula Thursday night and Friday.


ITALY - Torrential rains rains have lashed Italy from its northern Alps to the southern island of Sicily, causing flash floods that killed at least nine people and left six others missing. The storm that began yesterday spared few areas, but the northwestern coastal region of Liguria and the central region of Tuscany were the hardest hit. Six of the victims were in Borghetto Vara, a village in Liguria. Roiling waters and mud tore through the village, 75 kilometres from Genoa. At least one building collapsed.
Another victim died while trying to clear gutters in the northwestern coastal town of Monterosso, built around a small natural gulf. At least six other people were missing.
Flood waters swept away some roads and bridges, and several towns in Liguria remained cut off from the outside world. Authorities said major highways and the railway in Liguria would remain closed at least through Monday. Rome was under a flood alert but the storm caused little damage in the capital. A truck overturned in the storm, blocking the key Rome-Naples superhighway for three hours.

SE Asian Floods Spread to Myanmar - Add Myanmar to the list of Southeast Asian countries that are getting walloped by intense flooding. Earlier this week, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs issued a report that flash floods in part of Myanmar have left 78 people dead or missing, with more than 35,000 people affected, 3,000 houses destroyed and a pressing need for food, shelter and other essentials. That’s certainly not nearly as bad as the woes in Thailand, where an area the size of Connecticut has been inundated and Bangkok is at risk of going underwater. It may also not be as bad as Cambodia and Vietnam, which have also been struck by devastating floods in recent weeks.
But Myanmar has fewer resources to deal with disasters than those countries, and given the relatively under-developed media and relief networks there, it’s also often harder to get a complete picture of the damage when big storms or floods occur. Sometimes, relief workers find out much later the damage was worse than they believed. The latest flash floods occurred in the Magway, Mandalay and Sagaing regions of Myanmar, after two days of heavy rain on October 19 and 20 near the Myanmar – Bangladesh border. Initial estimates by UN departments showed that in addition to the 3,000 destroyed houses, some 8,500 houses were also damaged to varying degrees, while other crucial infrastructure like schools, monasteries and villages were also damaged. The Magway Region, the largest of Myanmar’s seven districts and home to 4.2 million people, was the worst affected by these floods. Around 26, 000 people lost their houses and their belongings, with 75% of houses flooded in the Seikphyu Township, an area which was severely affected by Cyclone Giri in 2010. In the Pauk Township, the strong winds and river current also washed away bridges and damaged roads, making it difficult to deliver aid to affected people.
Local authorities and the private sector, under the coordination of the UN, have begun emergency relief, setting up temporary camps in affected areas and providing kitchen sets, family kits and other necessities to people now displayed from their homes. Authorities have recorded the need for more essentials – including shelter, blankets, clothes, utensils and water. At least there’s some good news. Myanmar’s government, which was widely criticized for its insufficient response after the devastation caused by Cyclone Nargis in 2008, has taken efforts to better its response to natural disasters, including warning citizens to evacuate and welcoming more international relief during Cyclone Giri in 2010.


The world's population of seven billion is set to rise to at least 10 billion by 2100, but could possibly top 15 billion.