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# disaster - Friday 11 March, 2011

Indonesia braced for tsunami to hit at 6pm local time

Indonesia is in a state of high alert, as the tsunami makes its way towards the shore. It’s expected to hit at 11am Irish time.

# disaster - Thursday 3 March, 2011

Second earthquake this week hits Wellington, New Zealand

Area north-west of city was struck with a 4.5 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday night.

'No chance' of finding more survivors in Christchurch

New Zealand officials have declared the search for survivors of the earthquake over, saying efforts have now shifted to the recovery of loved ones and their return to their families.

# disaster - Tuesday 22 February, 2011

New Zealand earthquake was just 'waiting to happen'

Why the Christchurch happened, why it caused so much damage – and why there are still dangers to come.

# disaster - Friday 3 December, 2010

Thank you: Turkey's aid to Israeli wildfire crisis breaks diplomatic stalemate Israel This post contains images

Thank you: Turkey's aid to Israeli wildfire crisis breaks diplomatic stalemate

Israeli and Turkish prime ministers have their first phone conversation since 2009 in wake of fires which have killed 42 people.

# disaster - Tuesday 16 November, 2010

Owner of collapsed building facing 'culpable homicide' Delhi This post contains images

Owner of collapsed building facing 'culpable homicide'

Some 64 people dead under concrete remains of block called an ‘accident waiting to happen’.

# disaster - Wednesday 6 October, 2010

Trains come to end of the line in Vietnam floods

1,400 rail passengers stranded as railway swept away by rain and flooding claims at least 26 lives

# disaster - Tuesday 24 August, 2010

THE UNITED NATIONS recently stated that flooding in Pakistan this summer is the single worst disaster in UN history, admitting that “the number of people affected by the floods is greater than the other three disasters combined.”

Why then has the response been so slow?

Foreign Policy magazine recently highlighted the disparity between US donations for the Haitian earthquake in January, and the floods in Pakistan:

After the Haiti earthquake, about 3.1 million Americans using mobile phones donated $10 each to the Red Cross, raising about $31 million. A similar campaign to raise contributions for Pakistan produced only about $10,000.

So far, only around 50% of the UN target of $459 million aid for Pakistan from foreign donors has materialised.

There may be several reasons why the stream of donations going from the western world to flooded Pakistan has been so slow. considers some of those reasons below:

1. Compassion fatigue

After the terrible earthquake which decimated Haiti earlier this year, are people simply sick of giving money to far-off places affected by natural disaster?

It is something widely suggested, and the collections in churches, shopping centres and libraries which gave so much to Haiti simply have not re-appeared this time.

2. Allegations of terrorism

Pakistan’s national image has been tarnished by links made between the Pakistani government and terrorist organisations.

Pakistan’s President Zardari was enraged at comments made by British Prime Minister David Cameron on a recent trip to India, in which he said: “we cannot tolerate… that this country… is able in any way to promote the export of terror.”

In the simplest terms: people simply don’t want to give if they think the money may end up being used by members of Al-Qaeda or the Taliban.

3. Pakistan’s nuclear ability

Another sticking point for Pakistan’s international reputation.

Pakistan has had nuclear weapons since 1972 and the US Natural Resources Defense Council estimates that Pakistan has built 24-48 HEU-based nuclear warheads, while Carnegie reports that they have produced 585-800 kg of HEU, enough for 30-55 weapons.

Again, people don’t want to feel like they are funding the Pakistani nuclear programme.

4. Wikileaks Allegations

Seventy-seven thousand mostly-classified US military documents were published on Wikileaks three weeks ago, suggesting ties between Pakistan’s government and the Taliban.

The leaked documents say the US believes the Pakistani government’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency has links to the Pakistani Taliban.

The Pakistani government flatly denies the claims, but that still hasn’t stopped public opinion liking them with the Pakistani insurgency.

Mosharraf Zaidi concludes his Foreign Policy with an impassioned plea to ignore all of the above points in light of the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold in Pakistan:

The poor, hungry, and homeless are not an ISI conspiracy to bilk you of your cash. They are a test of your humanity.

Do not follow in the footsteps of the Pakistani elite by failing them. That would be immoral and inhumane. This is a time to ask only one question. And that question is: ‘How can I help?”

# disaster - Thursday 19 August, 2010

FLOODWATERS WHICH CONTINUE to ravage Pakistan won’t recede until the end of this month, according to the country’s top meteorologist, Arif Mahmood.

Mahmood says that current flooding is heading for major cities in the south such as Hyderabad and Sukkur, but no heavy rain is forecast for this week.

Twenty million people have been affected by severe flooding which began three weeks ago. Just under 1 million homes have been damaged, leaving four million people homeless.

Pakistan’s national disaster management authority has set up special phone lines to help them identify the bodies of flood victims. Around 1,500 people have died.

Call for aid

Speaking on the radio this morning, Trócaire’s Paul Healy said the north of the country was a “desolate wasteland”, with no water, medicine or utilities to cook food.

The UN is holding an emergency session today, to push for international donors to supply funds for Pakistan. So far, only half of the $460 million the UN has appealed for has actually been pledged.

Minister Peter Power will address the General Assembly at the meeting, which begins at 8pm Irish time. The EU announced an extra €30m, bringing the total donated by the EU to €70m.

A spokesperson for the UN said that despite the initial sluggish response to the disaster, the pace of donations was picking up:

There has been an increase in the pace of pledges, but we still need more funds, tents, food, water and medical supplies.

Insurgency fears

As Pakistan’s military is consumed by flood-relief operations, fears that militants will take advantage of the crisis and return to areas where they were driven out are mounting.

The US held off on drone attacks planned for Taliban targets in northern Pakistan when the flooding began, but launched it first missile attack this month on 15 August, killing 13 insurgents.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to announced an aid increase today that will push US aid to Pakistan over $100 million.

# disaster - Sunday 15 August, 2010

UN SECRETARY-GENERAL Ban Ki-moon arrived in Pakistan today to visit regions devastated by severe flooding. Ki-moon has urged international governments to commit further funds to the aid effort.

Twenty million people have been made homeless and at least 1,600 killed by the flooding already described by the UN as being one of the world’s worst disasters. The UN has appealed for $460 million from international donors to help Pakistan in coping with the flooding.

Fears that diseases such as cholera and malaria could spread quickly among the survivors of the flood are growing after the first cholera case was confirmed yesterday. Containing a cholera outbreak is a priority of aid workers responding to the flood crisis.

Donor fatigue?

Aid agencies have echoed the UN chief’s call for emergency funding, saying that the response needs to be stepped up. Aid organisations say that conditions in Pakistan are deteriorating quickly and current resources are inadequate.

Ireland’s Oxfam director, Jim Clarken, said that the situation is worsening and the disaster requires a huge response:

The rains are continuing and each hour that passes the flooding is multiplying misery across the entire country. Swathes of Pakistan are still under-water and people have seen homes, shops, schools and crops flattened.

The world must not leave these people stranded. This is a mega disaster and it needs a mega response.

In comparison with the influx of aid in the wake of previous disaster, such as the Asian tsunami of 2004, the response to Pakistan’s crisis has been much slower, prompting concerns of ‘donor fatigue’ (people are tired of donating).

US drone attack

A US drone attack on militant targets in Pakistan’s volatile Waziristan region has killed 13 Taliban fighters, according to the Times of India. Six other militants were injured in the attack.

The US, which is pushing Pakistan in its battle against the Taliban, had suspended the missile attacks due to the country’s severe flooding and this was the first such attack this month.

# disaster - Friday 13 August, 2010

PAKISTAN’S WORST FLOODING for 80 years looks set to continue as the monsoon season rolls on. The flooding has killed more than 1,600 people so far and forced the evacuation of 2 million from their homes.

Rain continues to pound the country, and the water level of the already-swollen Indus river is expected to rise even higher today. An estimated 14.5 million people are affected by the disaster, which the UN has termed worse than the Asian tsunami of 2004.

Aid agencies are warning that water-borne diseases are now posing a serious threat to the population. The UN says it is providing preventative medication to try to halt the spread of illness among flood victims.

About $1 billion of Pakistan’s crops have been destroyed by the flooding, according to the World Bank. The bank’s president Robert Zoellick said today that the organisation may redirect $900 million in aid to the country.

Government dissatisfaction

Criticism of the government’s response continues to grow, and tension among survivors competing for food is growing, as this video shows:

President Zardari made his first visit to some of the affected areas yesterday, having been heavily criticised for going ahead with state visits to Paris and England during the growing crisis in Pakistan.

The Guardian reports that TV stations in Pakistan which attempted to report an incident during Zardari’s visit to Britain were censored. While the president visited Birmingham, a Pakistani man in the crowd threw a pair of shoes at him in protest at his handling of the flooding crisis.

The shoes missed their target, and the protester was arrested at the scene.

Taliban crisis

The US has been flying relief supplies into Pakistan in an effort to improve public approval for the troops. US military support for Pakistan’s fight against the Taliban in the north of the country has killed civilians in missile attacks intended for Taliban targets.

After the UN called for a surge in donations to assist Pakistan’s recovery, the Taliban called for a boycott of aid from “foreign infidels”. The floods may threaten Pakistan’s ability to cope with Taliban insurgents, as the country’s resources are directed into surviving the flooding and rebuilding the country.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN has said that David Cameron’s recent comments concerning Pakistan’s efforts against the Taliban may have hampered fund raising for the flood victims. Cameron suggested the government wasn’t doing enough to tackle the Taliban.

Abdullah Hussain Haroon warns that the Taliban could gain a stronger foothold in flood-stricken areas if they cannot be pushed out with the help of the international community.

# disaster - Tuesday 10 August, 2010

THE ESCALATING FLOODS in Pakistan could eclipse the world’s last three biggest disasters combined, according to the UN. Over 13 million people are now believed to be affected by the flooding, and adverse weather is continuing to hamper aid efforts.

The number of homes destroyed by the floods is estimated to be reaching the same level as January’s earthquake in Haiti. A new warning has been issued to residents in Muzaffargarh, central Pakistan, over fears that swollen rivers could soon submerge the area.

Thousands of people continue to flee the flood-stricken regions. Thirty people are missing after a crowded boat evacuating residents from the Punjab town of Jampur capsized on Sunday.

Facing the crisis: images from Pakistan

Push for aid

The UN is expected to launch a major appeal for international aid shortly. Over $38 million has been donated to date and another $90 million has been promised, but more money will be needed to help the country recover and provide food aid to replace the thousands of acres of crops that have been destroyed.

Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) has released a list of articles required from donors which includes boats, tents, generators, and medicines.

Ireland has already pledged €750,000 to help alleviate the crisis. The funding will be divided up between Concern, Trócaire, and the UN. The Irish Rapid Response Corps has been on standby since last week to help in providing expert emergency assistance if requested by Pakistan.

Below is the latest OCHA map depicting the spread of the flooding across the country:

# disaster - Monday 2 August, 2010

FIREFIGHTERS in Russia are battling more than 400 fires and are facing the possibility that things could get much worse, with  weather of over 40 degrees estimated for central and southern Russia according to BBC News.

The news comes just as Russia felt it was getting over the worst of the wildfires.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting that over 34 people have been killed, while thousands have lost their homes since the fires began last week. The area effected by the fires has spread to over 110,000 hectares. Strong winds have been fanning the flames, forcing villages, summer camps and hospitals to be evacuated. Many have been forced to stay in temporarily refugee centers.

240,000 people and 226 aircraft were sent to fight the blazes according to Sergei Shaposhnikov, the head of the civil defense department at the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

Although the fires are a “traditional August disaster”, they seemed to strike early this year. A hot dry summer and temperatures of over 39 degrees (the hottest since records began in 1879) in Moscow, didn’t nothing to quench the disaster. The fires happen once every few decades and are part of a heatwave that has had an enormous effect on Russia.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin promptly ordered local officials, including governors, to work on weekends.

“Neither fire nor wind have days off, so we can’t take any days off,” Putin said during a video conference Saturday.

Putin also said that homeowners who’s houses have been destroyed, will be compensated. He said Moscow will also begin an investigation into the lack of action from officials.

Artificial climate change could be the solution to the Russian fires. Test pilot Aleksandr Akimenkov says:

“Dispersing clouds may not really be a job for the air force, but aviation can provide a solution until we find another way. Regarding the Chernobyl explosion, our crews hampered the rains and helped stop the spread of radioactive substances throughout the Soviet Union. It could work well in the present drought,” he believes.

The Beginning of Fire in Tamboles Village in Russia – contains strong language.

Russia Today report.

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