Asian natural disasters: A harbinger of things to come?

globalwarming

In a span of 5 weeks  earthquakes, floods, mudslides, typhoons and tsunamis swept through 10 nations leaving thousands of people dead and rendering millions more homeless. The first of the natural disasters struck Manila and the surrounding area on September 26 causing massive floods and mudslides and forcing thousands to flee their homes.

Tropical storm Ketsana left hundreds dead and thousands displaced. On October 3 this happened again with Tsunami Parma. The combined impact of Ketsana and Parma left 929 people dead in the Philippines and hundreds of thousands homeless, many forced to live in flooded areas with contaminated water, replete with disease.

Last week tropical storm Mirinae increased that number by 20 in the Philippines to 949. Ketsana and Parma had had moved on in the region a few weeks ago and killed 163 in Vietnam, 16 in Laos and 11 in Cambodia. During the same time period torrential rains killed 247 in South India and left 2 million homeless. Floods and mudslides took the lives of 143 in Nepal (the Nepal issue, while occurring in the same period as the other disasters, is more directly related to the melting of the Himalayan ice and snow). The tsunami that struck the South Pacific after the 8.3 earthquake of September 29th left 183 people dead in Samoa, 34 in American Samoa and 9 dead in Tonga. One day later, September 30, a 7.6 earthquake hit West Sumatra Indonesia killing 1,117 and leaving 2 million homeless. Some of the more remote areas have yet to be reached by aid workers.

Aside from the personal tragedies of the hundreds of thousands who have lost loved ones, homes and livelihoods millions throughout the region who live, or lived in low lying areas have been and will increasingly be at the mercy of rising sea levels.

The low lying coastal regions of South India, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia and Vietnam as well as the numerous islands throughout the Pacific, Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and parts of the African coast already have perennial flooding and with a rising sea level and greater frequency and intensity of typhoons and tsunamis more international preparations and cooperation is needed. The more and better prepared the more lives will be saved. The inevitability of this danger is without question. With the readily evident rise in sea level, melting on the north and south poles and melting seen on the Himalayas, Andes and Mount Kilimanjaro the evidence is irrefutable.

A partial list of organizations helping specifically with the needs and events mentioned here: redcross.org, care.org, unicef.org, oxfam.org, crs.org (Catholic Relief Services).

Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/teamaskins/ / CC BY-SA 2.0

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