August marked by deadly floods around world
It’s not just Texas. Severe floods around the world are washing through cities and villages, sweeping away homes and leaving a deadly toll.
Parts of South Asia were pounded by historic rainfall during the height of monsoon season last month. More than 1,200 people have been killed in India and Bangladesh and some 41 million have been affected by flooding since June, according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
Mumbai, India’s financial capital, has been beset with unrelenting rain, that has turned its streets into rivers.
The floods around the world also have raised questions of whether climate change is playing a role in the recent spate of disasters.
A massive mudslide sparked by heavy rains and flooding in an area of Freetown, Sierra Leone, has killed around 500 people and left hundreds more missing.
Houses that hugged the slopes, many of them little more than wooden shacks with tin roofs, were buried after torrents of mud poured down under the force of the water.
Gabriel Fattah Manga felt the land trembling as he prepared to go to work on August 14 and saw water and what he described as “this whole mountain coming down.” Manga survived, but an entire generation of his family was swept away.
“I lost my family, I lost my people. I lost my place,” he told CNN. “All has gone.”
The flash flood and the subsequent mudslide has displaced 20,000 people, presidential spokesman Abdulai Bayraytay said last month.
Flooding is not unusual in the region, which is experiencing its rainy season.
But this year has been particularly wet, with Freetown receiving more than 27 inches of rain between July 1 and August 13 — more than double the average of 11.8 inches, according to the US National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center.
Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari tweeted that more than 100,000 people had been displaced due to flooding in the state of Benue.
The National Emergency Management Agency, which manages disasters in Nigeria, also tweeted that it was sending a humanitarian team to support people affected by the flood.
August is monsoon season for South Asia, a time when much of the subcontinent is inundated with heavy rains.
Bangladesh is no stranger to flood-related disasters. Much of the country is built on low-lying and flood-prone areas, making it particularly vulnerable to seasonal monsoon rains. Bangladesh is frequently cited as the country most at risk due to the effects of climate change because of its exposure to flooding, storm surge, cyclones and landslides.
The flooding this year is being described as the most serious in the country in 40 years by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
A third of Bangladesh is under water and the floods have so far claimed the lives of 142 people and impacted more than 8.5 million.
“This is not normal,” Reaz Ahmed, the director-general of Bangladesh’s Department of Disaster Management, told CNN. “Floods this year were bigger and more intense than the previous years.”
Heavy rains have flooded parts of Mumbai this week, killing at least five people.
An unrelenting downpour has battered the city since Tuesday. And on Thursday, a three-story building in Mumbai collapsed, killing 33 people. No official link has been made between the widespread flooding and the building’s collapse. However, the building was 117 years old and had been deemed unsafe years ago, according to officials.
Other Indian states including Assam, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal have also dealt with intense flooding this season. The death toll in Assam, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh earlier last month was nearly 400.
The downpour also unleashed flooding and landslides in Nepal.
Ram Krishna Subedi, a Nepal Home Ministry spokesman, told CNN last month that at least 143 people have been killed since August 11. Nearly 80,000 houses have been damaged.
Subedi said the type of storm was something Nepal has not seen in about 60 years, which contributed to the high death toll and heavy destruction.
“The rains that caused this flooding and landslides were very peculiar. Strong cloudbursts triggered heavy rains … something that is not possible to predict ahead of time,” he said.
Sanjeev Mallik, president of the local Nepal Red Cross, agreed: “These have been the heaviest rains we have seen in several years.”
Sixteen people died after flash monsoon flooding in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, officials said. At least 11 deaths have been attributed to electrocution, as rising waters become electrified in low-lying urban areas, according to the Edhi Foundation, the city’s main emergency aid agency.
Residents waded through waist-deep water as streets turned into rivers on Thursday.
Figures released by the city’s Meteorological Department show Karachi normally receives an average of 19.9mm of rain in September. On Wednesday, northern parts of the city received 97mm, equivalent to five times that amount.