World under water: hundreds dead in Nigeria, Venezuela and Indonesia as flooding worsens

Hundreds dead as climate change exacerbates flooding

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Catastrophic flooding around the world has killed hundreds of people in a matter of days.

It is a problem that will not go away without serious action.

The Global Flood Database found that between 2000 and 2015, around 86 million more people reside in areas classed as flooded, a 24 per cent increase.

A World Bank study in September found 1.81 billion people are directly exposed to 1-in-100 year floods. Eighty-nine per cent of those people reside in low and middle-income countries.

A 2021 study published in Nature found climate change is probably increasing the intensity and frequency of extreme flooding, but bringing the number of moderate floods down.

With so many areas flooded, it is difficult to keep up. Here's what you need to know about flooding in recent weeks.

Venezuela

Residents walk through the debris left by flooding caused by a river that overflowed after days of intense rain in Las Tejerias, Venezuela, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2022. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Torrential rains brought flooding and landslides last weekend, killing at least 43 people and leaving 56 missing, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said.

The town of Las Tejerias, 50 kilometres from capital Caracas, was almost destroyed in the landslide and running water is yet to be restored.

“As much rain fell in eight hours as normally falls in a month,” Ms Rodriguez said as she blamed the “climate crisis”.

Experts said the storm was aggravated by the seasonal La Nina weather system gripping the region, as well as the effects of Hurricane Julia, which also claimed at least 26 lives in Central America and caused extensive damage from Panama to Guatemala on Sunday.

Nigeria

People stranded due to floods following several days of downpours In Kogi Nigeria, on October 6.  Thousands of travelers remained stranded in Nigeria's northcentral Kogi state after major connecting roads to other parts of the West African nation were submerged in floods, locals and authorities said Thursday.  AP

Nigeria is experiencing its worst flooding in decades, which has been blamed on heavy rain and the release of the Lagdo dam in neighbouring Cameroon. More than 500 people have been killed so far this year by the floods.

Nigeria's Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs said on Tuesday that “over 1.4 million persons were displaced, about 500 persons have been reported dead … and 1,546 persons were injured”.

“Similarly, 45,249 houses were totally damaged … while 70,566 hectares of farmlands were completely destroyed,” the statement from ministry deputy director of information Rhoda Ishaku Iliya said.

Seventy-six people are missing days after a boat overloaded with passengers fleeing flooding in the south-eastern region capsized on Monday, emergency officials said.

Many women and children were among those trying to escape the floodwaters in the Ogbaru council area of Anambra on Friday, Nigeria’s National Emergency Management Agency said.

“Eighty-five of them packed into a single boat and the weight overpowered the boat,” said Godwin Thickman, the regional head of the emergency management agency.

He said the boat could not move properly because it ran into submerged trees and the roofs of houses.

“It capsized and only nine survived. The remaining 76 were yet to be found,” he said.

More abundant rains are expected in the coming weeks and months. The rainy season typically ends in November in northern states and in December in the south.

Chad

Flooding in Chad since July has made food insecurity worse. The country is on its third poor harvest and lacks funds to deal with humanitarian crises including Covid-19, an influx of refugees and intercommunal tensions as food prices rise.

The flooding in the capital Ndjamena and large parts of the rest of the country has destroyed more than 465,000 hectares of agricultural land and left one million people in need of assistance.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it needs $14.3 million to provide emergency cash assistance to 300,000 people over the next three months.

“The effects of climate change are intensifying throughout Chad, resulting, among other things, in severe rain and floods that have adverse consequences for already vulnerable people,” the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs wrote in a status report for the end of September.

In the Lake Chad region, farmer Mahamat Kary's crop was ruined by floods.

“I am so sad, I don't know what to do.” he told the WFP. “The harvest is destroyed. The rain that is normally supposed to help us grow food to eat is now becoming a problem.”

The problems are not over. Weather experts predict the levels of lakes and rivers will rise in the coming weeks, presenting more problems for residents and farmers.

Indonesia

Indonesia's capital Jakarta and Sumatra Island's northern Aceh province were flooded last week, and thousands remain without shelter.

Three people died and two others were in Jakarta when a school building collapsed. In Aceh, more than 18,000 were forced to leave their homes, with 6,775 homes damaged by the influx of water.

The Greater Jakarta metropolitan region houses around 30 million people and is regularly hit by floods in the rainy season.

Five people were killed in floods across the city last February that submerged entire neighbourhoods and sent thousands into shelters.

In 2020, Jakarta suffered some of its deadliest floods in years after downpours that triggered landslides.

Pakistan

Much of Pakistan remains under water after the monsoon season brought flooding that killed 1,700 people and injured more than 12,000.

The UN said it could take six months for the water to recede, and in the meantime, authorities are extremely concerned about the spread of waterborne diseases.

“Pakistan has never seen a starker and more devastating example of the impact of global warming,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.

“Nature has unleashed her fury on Pakistan without looking at our carbon footprint, which is next to nothing. Our actions did not contribute to this.”

Nearly 15 per cent of Pakistan’s rice crop and 40 per cent of its cotton crop were lost in this year’s flooding, according to officials. The waters wiped out the personal grain stores that many farming families rely on for food all year-round.

Updated: October 13, 2022, 7:51 AM
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