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Natural Disasters

A Report of Natural Disasters and Hazards Between June and November

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The statistics conducted recently have shown that natural hazards, disasters, and catastrophes have increased in the past few years, thus affecting the socio-economic lives and activities of the affected regions. A natural hazard is a geographical phenomenon that occurs naturally, without human interference and control. Natural disasters are events similar to hazards, but they cause significant losses. This report analyses five hazards and natural disasters that have happened in the last five months regarding their place of occurrence, time, manner, affected population, and the required methods for improving community resilience.

Mudslides in Afghan-Pakistan

The Northern West border of Pakistan near Afghanistan is characterized by loose soils, susceptible to mudslides. On the November 3, 2017, a natural disaster in the form of mudslides was experienced in the location N 30 41′ E 69 1′ in the province of Badakhshan at 8:27 am (GMT). This natural disaster was originally reported by UN officers and local authorities (BBC, 2014). The cause of the mudslides was heavy downpour and the soil disturbance by the residents who had collected mud from the hill for strengthening their houses. When the rains continued, mudslides buried those who were near the hill.

Natural disasters can be the threat to life as well as property, especially when the magnitude of the hazard is significant. In 2017, Pakistan lost eight children to a local mudslide. In addition to that, two people were injured, which made the citizens wonder why the government had not taken risk control measures such as zoning in susceptible areas. In a location where some disaster is predictable, the government should find ways to warn people about such incidences through television, radio, and instant messages. However, the government did not issue a warning about this particular fatal incident. The Pakistani government should devise a mechanism for conveying prediction of mudslides and a means for delivering warnings to people. Regions that are susceptible to mass movement should not be inhabited.

The government should use professional surveyors and engineers before allowing people to inhabit a given location. If the government allows people to live in such places, there should be mechanisms of warning people before the occurrences so that they could evacuate. The inhabitants of this region were just utilizing the readily available resources for building and strengthening their houses. The government must inform the residents about the dangers that come with disturbing the soil structure of a hill with low-density soils, which it has not done in this case.

Earthquake in Guatemala

On June 14, 2017, at 3:29 EDT or 1:29 am, a hazardous earthquake was felt in Guatemala (Aljazeera, 2017). The earthquake was a natural hazard because its causes were natural and it ended as a natural disaster because of the loss of lives and property destruction. The epicenter of the quake was reported to have been 5km SW of Tajumulco, Guatemala. This earthquake had a magnitude of 6.9, and it extended 111km deep. The scale of the earthquake was so large that it was felt throughout the country. Unlike the mudslides discussed above, which were somehow triggered by human activity, the earthquake was purely a natural occurrence. Guatemala is located between two tectonic plates – the Caribbean Cocas and North America. This makes this area susceptible to earth tremors.

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This part of the continent has experienced several earthquakes and tremors during this year. The best thing that the inhabitants can do is to avoid building multiple-storied houses. In this particular fatal occurrence, five people lost their lives, while seven other people were injured. Falling walls killed two victims, a woman and a man, in two separate locations close to the epicenter (Associated Press, 2017a). The other three victims died of heart attacks, caused by fright during the quake. The earthquake had also caused a landslide that injured several people. Other consequences were the shutdown of schools for inspection and due to blackouts. The investigation in schools showed that the quake had damaged five of them.

The government had not issued a warning about the oncoming event before it happened. This earthquake happened at night and people did not have means to evacuate. In the future, it will be more useful to devise a method of waking people up so that they might not be caught unaware by fatal accidents. This would give them time to evacuate or to take shelter from falling walls or resulting landslides. In addition to that, it is necessary to provide emergency kits in the case of such incidents.

Mudslides in Tamahu

On September 28, 2017, Tamahu, a small town in Guatemala, experienced a natural disaster. The mudslide happened late in the evening. The cause of the mudslide was the torrential downpour and a river that had broken past the banks. The area of occurrence was at N 17 W 89. More than 21 people died as the result of flooding and mudslides during this season alone. In the mudslide of Tamahu, a woman and a child lost their lives. The continuous heavy rains resulted in floods and the mass movement in the sloppy terrains of Guatemala and affected 25 homes (AFP, 2017). Eight people went missing after the Tamahu mudslides. The soil structure and the rocks on the hills surrounding this town are quite unstable. In the event of heavy rainfalls, rocks and the soil detach so significant amounts of mud and rocks begin falling down the hill.

The government did not issue a warning for the mudslides in Tamahu. However, the residents of Guatemala, including those of Tamahu, had been informed about heavy rains. the majority of residents who lived by the river banks had to evacuate. The government did not tell its citizens that this area was susceptible to mudslides; therefore, many of those living close to hills did not evacuate. This cost two people their lives. In addition to that, the mass movement leads to a destruction of property such as people’s homes. The land terrace of this area is prone to the occurrence of mudslides in the event of heavy and prolonged downpours. The place has unstable hills, and thus, the government should ensure the safety of its people by building emergency shelters for the rainy season. In addition to that, the government should provide transportation means to evacuate the residents of susceptible areas in the case of possible fatal mudslides.

Typhoon Hato

Typhoon Hato occurred on August 24 this year, affecting Southern China as well as Hong Kong. This was a natural hazard caused by low-pressure and it was mostly concentrated at 22.3964 N and 114.1095 E. The waters in the ocean were reported to have risen to the heights of 10 meters. This hazard killed 15 people minimum and left 153 with injuries (Associated Press, 2017b). The typhoon flooded the streets of Macau, making many residents seek for shelter. The storm originated from the ocean near Hong Kong and then shifted westwards, deep into mainland China. In the Gambling area of Macau, eight people drowned in their cars during the flood. The cyclone was so intense that it had shuttered windows of skyscrapers. By midday, the strength of the wind was at 78mph and gusts as high as 129mph. Three men aged 62, 42, and 30 lost their lives to the cyclones.

In Guangdong province alone, four lives were lost as the result of a storm in the Pear River in Zhuhai. Furthermore, 26,817 people were evacuated to safety (Associated Press, 2017b). Typhoon Hato left the residents of Macau without power, forcing them to use backup generators. In Hong Kong, the cyclone led to the shutdown of businesses, schools, government offices, and any other operations, leaving the city quiet. Airlines canceled a total of 450 flights, while the Macao ferries halted their operations. The houses that were close to the shore collapsed into the ocean. The Hato typhoon caused an economic loss of $1,9 million.

Hato Typhoon led to a typhoon of 10 warning in Hong Kong. On Wednesday morning, the Hong Kong Observatory raised the level 10 typhoon flag while the government advised people to stay indoors. The government should provide emergency mechanism for providing the population with generators to supply power during blackouts caused by typhoons. In addition to that, the government should ensure that there are trenches and underground drainage systems for draining the runoff due to storms.

Landslide

On the June 24, 2017, Xinmo, a small village in Mao County, experienced such a natural disaster as landslide. This happened at 5:38 am. The geographical location of the disaster site is at N 31 E 103. The cause of the landslide was attributed to an 8.0 magnitude earthquake that had affected this area in 2008 and led to the deterioration of the strength and structure of the surface. The torrential rains fell in June 2017, thus triggering landslides, and consequently, 3-8 million rocks were displaced in a landslide (Telegraph Foreign Staff, 2017). Many families in Xinmo village were affected by the landslides as it had buried a big part of the town. Many children were left orphaned. The rescue team recovered 15 buried bodies, and 96 people went missing. The sides of the mountain collapsed on the village, destroying 62 homes.

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The people of Sichuan Province were upset about the failure of the government to inform them of a possibility of landslides in this village. However, the government sent a rescue team of 3,000 people equipped with sniffer dogs and equipment to search for survivors. The rescue team, on the other hand, operated under restricted access due to the instability of the ground and possibility of more slides. Sichuan province is prone to landslides that occur after earthquakes and earth tremors that affect the structure of rocks and the entire surface.

The government should ensure that a reoccurrence of fatal landslides does not happen again in future. This could be done by establishing tree nurseries that will provide the seedlings of trees to the locals and encourage them to plant grass and other cover crops to hold the soil together after heavy rains. A reliable soil structure will indeed reduce the chances of landslides occurring again.

Overall Analysis of the Semester

This semester was quite eventful and active. Thus, it was characterized by several natural disasters and harsh weather conditions that affected class attendance, caused loss of friends and family to citizens and few students. Rains made roads impassable in most regions, and the case was not different from the area surrounding this institution. The geographical factors such as terrain, topography, position of a country on the globe, and seasons have played a significant role in influencing the events of the semester because the nature of the class report inclined more towards the hazards, catastrophes, and natural disasters. In addition to this, there was an increase in some reports of natural hazards that ended as disasters that drew the attention of students and became the topic of discussions in and outside lecture rooms.

There was a trend in the occurrence of geographical events. The mudslides in Asia, and particularly Pakistan, continued happening as it was at the beginning of 2017. The mudslides and landslides followed a regular pattern of occurring after a heavy downpour. However, some of the natural disasters that had occurred this semester were attributed to human interference as much as there was a natural cause. The news about catastrophes was a bit frequent as compared to other semesters. However, the natural phenomena did not have any particular causes. Several natural hazards were caused by the movements of tectonic plates. The number of earthquakes increased in 2017 due to this natural cause. This year was unique as compared to previous ones, but with constraints put to 2016 and 2017, there was a trend in the occurrence of natural hazards and earthquakes. These events affected the nature of talks, assignments, and class attendants of few students.

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