Desastres naturales

Por qué en la India las mujeres son más vulnerables a las catástrofes naturales

De las muchas catástrofes naturales que afectan cada año a la India, las inundaciones son, por lejos, las más frecuentes. Esto no sorprende, dado que en el país hay cerca de 40 millones de hectáreas de terrenos inundables, y casi de 75 % de las precipitaciones anuales ocurre en unos pocos meses.

Pero, con el aumento de la frecuencia y gravedad de las catástrofes naturales debido a las mayores temperaturas, las inundaciones en la India se tornaron más destructivas y mortales (y los ciclones ganaron intensidad). El país sufre la mayor cantidad de muertes relacionadas con inundaciones de Asia, y los daños económicos causados por las inundaciones pasaron de USD 1400 millones en 2013 a USD 11 500 millones en 2020.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rescue teams search through the rubble in the eastern city of Soussa, Libya on Sep. 21, following deadly flash floods. OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images

On Sunday, Sept. 10, Libya suffered its worst natural disaster in living memory. In fact, more people died that day than in any battle of Libya’s wars of post-Qaddafi succession.

Starting in the early morning hours, heavy rains strafed the eastern city of Derna, causing two nearby dams to burst—flooding everything downstream. Two weeks later, the scale of the disaster has come into more precise focus: The Libyan Red Crescent reports more than 11,000 people are dead; 10,000 people are still missing; and 30,000 are now homeless. Aerial footage of the city reveals utter devastation—replete with floating corpses and bereft families.…  Seguir leyendo »

Is the Disaster in Libya Coming Soon to an Aging Dam Near You?

The collapse of two dams in Libya, unleashing torrential floodwaters that left at least 3,000 people dead and over 4,200 still missing, was both predicted and preventable. And they won’t be the last big dams to collapse unless we remove and repair some of the aging and obsolete structures that are long past their expiration date.

Like many dams around the world, the Wadi Derna dams in Libya were built in the 1970s during the era of peak global dam construction, when 1,000 large dams were installed each year. Now most of these dams are reaching the end of their life spans.…  Seguir leyendo »

Floods after the Mediterranean storm Daniel hit Libya's eastern city of Derna have killed thousands. (AFP/Getty Images)

Apocalyptic visions are dominated by fire. The Bible prophesies sinners being cast into a lake of flame. Nostradamus predicted fire from the sky. Manhattan Project scientists worried that the atomic bomb would set the entire atmosphere ablaze.

But this year has been a devastating reminder of the power and menace of water. Water scientists have a saying that if climate change is a shark, water will be the teeth. Now the world is being bitten, with news every day of extreme storms and killer floods.

The storm that burst dams and killed thousands in Libya this week also submerged a quarter of the farmland in Greece, dumping more than a year’s rain in hours.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man surveys the damage in Derna, Libya, on Sept. 12. Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

This week, the worst storm in recent memory pounded the Green Mountains in eastern Libya with rain, pushing two poorly maintained, half-century-old dams to their limit. Just before 3 a.m. on Sept. 11, the first dam collapsed. An enormous wall of water surged into a riverbed that bisects the coastal city of Derna. It stalled briefly at the second dam eight miles downstream and then scooped that and everything else up in its path, tossing the debris into the sea. By dawn, a third of the city was gone, leaving thousands missing. The minimum number of dead is likely to be at least 10,000 but could be double that, local officials say.…  Seguir leyendo »

Des secouristes transportent une femme blessée par une réplique, dans la ville d'Imi N'tala, à l'extérieur de Marrakech, au Maroc, mercredi 13 septembre 2023. — © MOSA'AB ELSHAMY / AP

Pendant que la France se vexe, prenant mal le silence du Maroc face à sa proposition d’aide après le terrible tremblement de terre qu’ont vécu Marrakech et sa région, d’autres pays comme l’Espagne, les Emirats arabes unis ou le Qatar ont déjà pu accéder aux zones sinistrées pour tenter de venir en aide aux personnes en détresse. Une fois encore, un pays comme le Qatar, qui déjà mène depuis des années une stratégie offensive de médiateur de crises, assoit son rôle d’acteur humanitaire de premier plan sur plusieurs continents. Le contexte est celui d’un multilatéralisme en déroute depuis plusieurs années, de l’affaiblissement des grandes puissances, et du retour en puissance des acteurs régionaux, sans compter les microconfettis étatiques qui se rêvent en acteurs géopolitiques incontournables de l’échiquier mondial.…  Seguir leyendo »

Women huddle after gendarmes used water cannon and teargas against them during clashes over deforestation in Ikizkoy, Muğla province, Turkey. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

This summer, as Rhodes was ravaged by wildfires and the world witnessed the destruction of precious trees and fragile ecosystems, on the opposite shore in Turkey, only miles away, ancient forests were being felled for the sake of more coal, more profit. But what the energy company hadn’t reckoned with was the resistance of local women.

Akbelen, in the province of Muğla, is a woodland of about 730 hectares (1,800 acres) that provides a natural habitat for a diverse range of flora and fauna. It is this beautiful place that YK Energy, a private energy company, has been aiming to occupy in order to expand an open-pit lignite mine to supply a thermal power plant.…  Seguir leyendo »

It Is No Longer Possible to Escape What We Have Done to Ourselves

On the drive to our cottage here in June, my wife and I collided with the dense wall of Canadian wildfire smoke. The clear spring air began turning a sickly orange in the Adirondack Mountains, the sun was reduced to a red spot, and by the time we reached Montreal the skyline was barely visible from across the St. Lawrence River. On that day, June 25, Montreal had the worst air quality in the world.

Up at our lake, we soon learned to track the sheets of smoke online as they swept across Canada, down into the United States and even across the Atlantic Ocean.…  Seguir leyendo »

The aftermath of the wildfire that swept through Lahaina, Hawaii. Etienne Laurent/EPA, via Shutterstock

Hawaii has one of the most sophisticated tsunami warning systems in the world, fine-tuned over the course of almost 80 years, ever since 1946, when a 55-foot wave hit the island chain, killing 159 people.

For decades, tsunami evacuation maps have appeared in every Hawaiian telephone directory. Signs have alerted beachgoers of the hazard zones; others identified escape routes. The state now has an emergency alert system for all disasters that not only relies on sirens, which get tested on the first working day of every month everywhere in Hawaii, but also on radio and TV broadcasts. It is a system designed to save lives when disaster is about to strike.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tras los incendios, Hawái se reinventará de nuevo

La catástrofe que arrasó la semana pasada la querida población de Lahaina, al oeste de Maui, trae consigo el amargo sabor del desconcierto.

El incendio de la maleza se mezcló con unos vientos fuertes azotados por un huracán lejano y, de la noche a la mañana, la histórica ciudad había desaparecido, convertida en humo y cenizas. Un exuberante paisaje acuarelado está ahora redibujado en blanco y negro. Al menos 99 personas han muerto, y muchas más están desaparecidas.

Un huracán quemó una ciudad. Es todo muy extraño y terrible.

Vivir en Hawái el tiempo suficiente te familiariza con las catástrofes repentinas, del tipo que pueden arrasar una comunidad en una semana, un día o un instante.…  Seguir leyendo »

A fishing boat weighted with rocks lies stationary in the Euphrates river near a pedestrian bridge amidst a heavy dust storm in the city of Nasiriyah in Iraq's southern Dhi Qar province on 23 May 2022. Photo by ASAAD NIAZI/AFP via Getty Images.

12 July 2023 marks the first-ever International Day of Combating Sand and Dust Storms (SDS). The recent United Nations designation is indicative of concern about the growing severity and widespread effects of these hazards.

In 2022, dust storms affected countries from Turkey to Oman, hitting Iraq particularly badly. While orange skies are a natural climatic feature of the region, the severity, frequency and duration of the dust storms in recent years has drawn attention to what is changing.

Dust storms occur in arid and semi-arid environments when winds whip up, suspend and transport loose soil particles. Dust storm particles are less than 0.05 mm in diameter and can be transported thousands of kilometres, distinguishing them from sandstorm particles which are larger and travel, at most, a few kilometres.…  Seguir leyendo »

Why are people dying at sea?

Before the Adriana, an overcrowded fishing trawler, left Libya on 9 June, Sajjad Yousef spoke to his father. His family had begged him not to make the treacherous journey from Pakistan to Europe. But Yousef wouldn’t listen. He wanted to leave the desolation of life in Pakistan far, far behind. It was hard, the journey would be rough, he knew that. His family had taken out loans in the millions of rupees to buy him space on that teeming trawler, and Yousef was ready to take his chance.

Most of the 750 people on board the trawler were Pakistani. They were migrants, fleeing poverty and lack of opportunity but also the ravages of the climate emergency, which is felt acutely in Pakistan.…  Seguir leyendo »

Para reconstruir Turquía, primero hay que reconstruir su democracia

Los devastadores terremotos que en febrero mataron más de 50.000 personas en Turquía (y, al menos, más de 7.000 en el norte de Siria) dejaron expuestos arraigados problemas en los preparativos para las elecciones presidenciales y parlamentarias de este 14 de mayo que bien podrían marcar época. Hoy parece claro que Turquía necesita más que un cambio de gobierno; precisa de una transformación fundamental de su política y su economía, lo que significa enfrentarse a los potentes grupos de presión del sector de la construcción e intentar reconstruir la tambaleante democracia del país.

Aunque los terremotos fueron actos de la naturaleza, la devastación que causaron fue el resultado de la corrupción existente en este sector industrial y otros más.…  Seguir leyendo »

Volunteering with the Syria Civil Defence in the aftermath of an earthquake, Jandaris, Syria, February 2023. Khalil Ashawi / Reuters

The pair of massive earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria in early February killed tens of thousands and displaced many more. They have also aggravated a humanitarian catastrophe in northwest Syria in ways that could end up fundamentally reorienting the balance of power in Syria’s long-running conflict. Assad’s regime has long sought to punish civilian populations as a means of advancing its war effort—a strategy now greatly helped by the earthquakes. Without a massive recovery effort, the extensive damage in Syria’s opposition-held northwest could not only leave the people there unable to rebuild their lives but also tilt the balance of the conflict in Assad’s favor.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dos mujeres frente a un edificio derrumbado después del terremoto en el distrito de Elbistan de Kahramanmaras, Turquía, en febrero. Sedat Suna/EPA vía Shutterstock

En las últimas semanas, muchas personas de todo el mundo han celebrado conmigo varios primeros hitos de mi carrera: desde ganar mi primer Globo de Oro y mi primer premio del Sindicato de Actores de Cine, hasta ganar mi primer Oscar (por mejor actriz). Aunque estoy agradecida por este momento inolvidable de mi vida profesional, quisiera dirigir el foco internacional hacia un asunto que es muy personal para mí, y que merece la atención del mundo.

Mi vida cambió hace ocho años, cuando un momento sacudió mi visión del mundo.

Era el 25 de abril de 2015, y estaba en Nepal con mi pareja, Jean Todt, visitando varias organizaciones del lugar.…  Seguir leyendo »

The devastating Feb. 6 earthquake that hit Turkey could have united the country. Instead, the catastrophe — which has taken the lives of at least 46,000 people inside the country — is widening the political divide between President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his opponents. With a general election just nine weeks away, Erdogan is confronting a wave of public anger over poor governance and misguided centralization.

After 20 years in power, Erdogan has been badly weakened by the quake. The opposition finally has a chance to beat him. But they should not assume it will be easy.

On March 6, the opposition parties announced their decision to rally behind Kemal Kilicdaroglu, 74, the leader of the secularist Republican People’s Party.…  Seguir leyendo »

Munavver Beyaz mourns the death of her son Mustapha in Adiyaman, Turkey. Diego Ibarra Sanchez for The New York Times

Beneath each fresh mound in this rapidly expanding graveyard lies a tragedy. One morning at dawn, Zeki Karababa told me about his.

Karababa’s brother, Hamit; Hamit’s wife, Fatma; and two children, Ahmet, 10, and Evra, 3, had been crushed when their apartment building crumbled in the earthquake.

But that was just the beginning.

“For three days there were no professional rescuers”, Karababa told me. By the time they found his relatives, all four were dead.

“I took the bodies with my bare hands”, he said, weeping. “Nobody came to help us”.

It is a refrain I heard over and over in the week I spent traversing southeastern Turkey last month.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘There are reports from human rights organisations that it is harder to find a tent or access aid if you are a single woman.’ Tents for earthquake survivors in Adiyaman, Turkey, 25 February 2023. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

In Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, one of the most ravaged cities in the recent earthquakes, 25-year-old Alev Altun, the mother of two young children, became homeless in one night, like thousands of others. Having nowhere to go, she agreed to take refuge in the house of her ex-husband, on his invitation, assuming it would be safer to stay with the father of her children than alone in a tent or in a building at risk of collapse.

While she was sleeping, her ex-husband allegedly poured scalding water all over her, shouting she should be grateful that he had not killed her.…  Seguir leyendo »

Muhammad Al Halbouni, de 31 años, perdió una pierna en un bombardeo hace años. En el terremoto a principios de febrero perdió a sus dos hijas. Diego Ibarra Sanchez para The New York Times

Ella no recuerda el terremoto que le partió la espalda y se tragó a sus hijas. Khaira al Halbouni solo sabe lo que le contó su marido después. En la mitad de la noche, el edificio tembló. Él agarró a una de sus hijas, Bisan, y a su hijo, Alí. Carga a Mayas —su hija menor— y corre, gritó.

Ella se llevó instintivamente la mano al velo. Después, nada.

Lo primero que Khaira recuerda es despertar sobre un montón de escombros. Vio un pequeño rayo de luz, y después un par de botas. Gritó. Miró alrededor, buscando a su hija. Habían pasado casi 30 horas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, February 2023. Presidential Press Office / Handout / Reuters

The earthquakes that struck ten southern Turkish provinces on February 6 mark the country’s worst humanitarian disaster in modern history. Bustling cities were leveled, ancient citadels crumbled, and thousands of residential and commercial buildings collapsed. In addition to numerous casualties in neighboring Syria, more than 44,000 people have died in Turkey as of February 24. More than 100,000 people have been injured and millions more are currently homeless. One-sixth of Turkey’s population—more than 13 million people—is thought to have been affected by the earthquakes.

Providing relief to the stricken areas is the Turkish government’s most immediate concern. The disaster, however, poses not just a logistical challenge but also a political one.…  Seguir leyendo »