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India floods: Buildings washed away as 19 die

Posted by Nuttapon_S On June - 18 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

Floods and landslides have killed at least 19 people and destroyed buildings after heavy rain in North India.

Fifteen people died in Uttarakhand state. Another four lost their lives in Himachal Pradesh, officials say.

Footage showed a three-storey apartment building being washed away in the town of Uttarkashi. Reports said at least three people died – more are missing.

Another 40 people are unaccounted for in Uttarakhand. Casualty figures are expected to rise.

Officials said 12 people were missing after the apartment block was washed into the Ganges in Uttarkashi in northern Uttarakhand. A temple was also swept away.

Thousands of people who were on their way to a pilgrimage in Uttarakhand have been stranded after a number of bridges collapsed on Sunday.

Heavy rains have also been reported in the northern states of Punjab and Haryana.

The monsoon season generally lasts from June to September, bringing rain which is critical to India’s farming output.

Senior Uttarakhand official Piyush Rotela told the BBC that the Rudraprayag and Kedarnath areas had been worst affected.

A number of houses had been damaged by landslides.

Local journalist Nandan Bisht told the BBC that more than 200 vehicles had been swept away by flood waters near Badrinath.

In Himachal Pradesh, four people were killed in landslides in Kinnaur district.

Local police chief G Shiva told the BBC that a family of five, including three children, were missing after their house was struck by a landslide.

“Rescue teams are on the way to the village, but local people say there is very little chance of the family surviving,” Mr Shiva said.

Heavy snowfall has also been reported from Chitkul area in Sangla valley bordering Tibet – an unusual occurrence during summer.

India’s capital, Delhi, has also been deluged after recent blistering summer heat. Many roads were flooded on Monday, and commuters had a hard time reaching work.

Delhi airport was also affected after more than 10cm (four inches) of rain fell in under five hours on Sunday afternoon. Passengers had to wade knee deep in water to get to and from Terminal 3.

Flood waters from Czech dams bear down on Prague

Posted by Nuttapon_S On June - 4 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS

The authorities in the Czech Republic have been forced to open dams in the south of the country, releasing huge volumes of water towards Prague.

The River Vltava, which flows through the capital, is rising and levels are expected to peak on Tuesday morning.

Severe floods caused by days of heavy rain have left at least seven people dead in the Czech Republic, and two others in neighbouring Austria.

Germany has drafted in the army to help reinforce flood defences in the south.

In the Bavarian town of Passau, floodwaters have now reached a level not seen since the 16th Century, making much of the town inaccessible.

Charles Bridge closed

In the Czech Republic, a nationwide state of emergency is in force. Around 3,000 people have been forced to leave their homes across the west of the country.

On Monday morning, the River Vltava was flowing at 2,800 cubic metres per second – 10 times its normal volume – through Prague’s historic centre.

As a precaution the city’s metro system and central sewage treatment plant were closed, metal flood defences were erected and sandbags built up along the banks of the Vltava.

The Charles Bridge – normally packed with tourists – has been closed and tigers at the city’s zoo were even tranquilised and moved out of an enclosure thought to be at risk.

By Monday evening, the people of Prague had thought the worst was behind them, reports the BBC’s Rob Cameron in the capital.

But then Prime Minister Petr Necas announced unexpectedly that a system of nine dams called the Vltava Cascade was dangerously full, and the pressure would have to be relieved.

At 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT) the floodgates on several dams were opened.

Our correspondent says the Vltava in Prague is now rising again, the situation exacerbated by several swollen tributaries.

Firemen and soldiers are raising the city’s flood defences again to cope with the extra volumes of water on the Vltava, which has already burst its banks in several places.

North of Prague, further downstream, the River Elbe is rising to levels approaching those seen in 2002, the last time Europe experienced similar floods.

Seventeen people were killed in the Czech Republic then and the cost of the damage across the continent was estimated at 20bn euros (£17bn).

Disaster zone

Main roads in many areas of central Europe have been closed and rail services cut. Thousands of homes are without power.

In Austria, the meteorological service said two months of rain had fallen in just two days.

Floods across Central Europe

Central Europe flood map
  • Austria Two people have died and several are missing in the west of the country
  • Germany Evacuations have taken place in Saxony while Bavaria is forecast more heavy rain
  • Czech Republic Seven people have died and Prague is on high alert. Troops have been called in to erect flood defences

A man was found dead near Salzburg after being swept away as he worked to clear a landslip, and another man who had been listed as missing was found dead in the western state of Vorarlberg. Three people remain missing.

More than 300 people were moved from their homes in Salzburg and the neighbouring Tyrol as the army worked with the civil authorities to clear landslides and make roads passable. Parts of the Pinzgau region, which includes Taxenbach, have been declared a disaster zone.

‘Extremely dramatic’

In Germany, the army said it had sent 1,760 soldiers to southern and eastern areas to help local authorities reinforce flood defences.

The Bavarian towns of Passau and Rosenheim declared states of emergency, as forecasters warned of continuing heavy rain and a high risk of flooding from several rivers, including the Danube.

Water levels in Passau, which the Danube is joined by the Inn and Ilz rivers, were at their highest since 1501 and might rise further, the DPA news agency said.

Much of the city is inaccessible on foot and the electricity supply has been cut as a precaution. Inmates at a prison in danger of being flooded have also been moved.

“The situation is extremely dramatic,” Herbert Zillinger, a spokesman for Passau’s crisis centre, told the Associated Press.

Towns and cities in Saxony, Thuringia and Baden-Wuerttemberg have also been inundated by flooding, and the army has been deployed to help with the emergency effort.

In northern Saxony, water levels on the River Mulde were said to be particularly high.

A large area of Eilenburg north-east of Leipzig was evacuated, reports said, with 7,000 people being taken to emergency shelters.

Shipping was halted on parts of the Danube and Rhine rivers in Germany, and the entire length of the Danube in Austria. The rivers are used heavily to transport commodities such as grain and coal.

An emergency taskforce has been set up by the federal government, and Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to visit affected areas on Tuesday.

The European Union has said it stands ready to help the three countries as they tackle the devastating floods.

Slovakia’s Prime Minister Robert Fico also warned that there was a risk of flooding as water moved down the Danube, which flows through Bratislava.

“We are getting bad news from Germany and Austria. We have to do all we can to protect… the capital,” he said.

The head of Hungary’s National Disaster Authority, Gyorgy Bakondi, said 400 people were working on flood defences in the capital, Budapest, where he said the level of the Danube might reach or even exceed the height seen in 2002.

Over 2,000 political leaders, high-ranking officials, water experts and engineers from 37 countries in the Asia-Pacific will be in Thailand this week to seek answers to the world’s drought, flood and wastewater problems.

They will be attending the 2nd Asia-Pacific Water Summit entitled “Water Security and Water-related Disaster Challenges: leadership and commitment”.

Thai government agencies, the private sector and local communities will also contribute ideas and technology to resolve and manage water-resources issues.

The water summit will include technical workshops and exhibitions until May 20 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre, commemorating His Majesty’s 7th Cycle Birthday, in Chiang Mai.

Deputy Premier Plodprasop Suraswadi, who chairs the Water Resources And Flood Management Committee, said the summit is being held to highlight the necessity for water management and flood prevention due to the impact of climate change.

“We will seek collaboration from water experts at the summit to create concrete plans to handle water problems in the near future,” Plodprasop said.

Among the summit guests will be leaders from 10 nations and ministers from 26 countries. About 2,000 water experts and academics are attending from 37 countries in the region.

The king of a country in the region who does not want to be immediately named will also attend the summit, he said.

“I cannot reveal the identity of the king until his arrival day, for security reasons,” Plodprasop added.

The technical adviser to the panel, Apichart Anukularmphai, said the Thai government, which is hosting the summit, will propose the meeting set up a US$10million (about Bt296 million) water bond to support research on water-resources management in this region.

“Thailand would provide about $1 million in seed money as the first step,” he said.

In one of the exhibitions, four contenders bidding to participate in the Bt350billion water, flood-management and infrastructure projects have detailed their experience and technologies to manage water resources and severe flooding in Thailand and other parts of the world.

The four contenders are Korea Water Resources Cooperation, owned by the government of Korea, ITD Powerchina Joint Venture, Summit SUT Joint Venture, and Loxley.

The winning bidders for the water and flood-management and infrastructure mega projects – divided into nine modules – will be officially announced on June 4.

Monton Panupokin, managing director of K Water, said he expected the firm to win modules A6 and B4 to set up a Bt4billion information centre on water management because of its expertise in establishing such a centre in Korea.

K Water and ITD Powerchina Joint Venture have proposed completing nine modules, worth Bt291 billion, under water and flood management and infrastructure.

There was a strong reaction from environmental activists to an interview given by Plodprasop earlier to the media. He denounced planned opposition by civic groups, calling protesters “garbage” – even though they just wanted to submit petitions.

Hannarong Yaowalers, president of the Foundation for Integrated Water Management, said: “We do not intend to cause disturbance. but only want to tell the world that the ongoing bid for a water megaproject has skipped many legal steps.”

UNESCO launches Ayutthaya flood risk mitigation project

Posted by Nuttapon_S On March - 25 - 2013 ADD COMMENTS
BANGKOK, March 25 –  UNESCO launched a project to develop a flood risk mitigation plan for the World Heritage Site of Ayutthaya, 76 kilometres north of Bangkok
Held at UNESCO Bangkok last Friday, the event was attended by key players of Thailand’s national flood risk reduction effort and representatives from the embassies of Germany, Japan, Portugal and the United States that were actively involved in Ayutthaya’s post-flood recovery in 2011 and 2012.
The project was developed following the floods of 2011 that heavily affected the Ayutthaya Historic City World Heritage Site.  The project  is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) under its water financing programme.
“Disaster risk mitigation is one of the top priorities for World Heritage protection identified by the World Heritage Committee,” said Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok.
Since October 2011, the Thai authorities have undertaken extensive repair work at the World Heritage site and have invested in water management systems for the Chao Phraya River Basin. However, up to now, there has been no long-term effort to protect Ayutthaya’s heritage assets from future flooding.
The two-year project will assess the flood risks at the Ayutthaya World Heritage site and then develop a flood risk mitigation plan, the world cultural body said.
The UN agency added that experts will undertake hydraulic modeling using computer simulations for flood risks at the site. Based on the results, project partners will develop a flood risk mitigation plan together with local stakeholders. International expertise in risk preparedness for cultural heritage conservation will be mobilised by UNESCO Bangkok in order to guide the development of the flood risk mitigation plan in line with international conservation standards.
Mr Kim said that upon successful completion of this project, “Ayutthaya will be the first World Heritage site in Southeast Asia with a management plan for flood risk mitigation, setting an example for other World Heritage sites around the region.”
The project will be undertaken by the UNESCO Institute for Water Education (UNESCO-IHE) based in the Netherlands, in close collaboration with UNESCO Bangkok.  Project partners include the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute (HAII), the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) and the Thai government Fine Arts Department.
An international expert seminar to begin the consultation sessions to develop the flood risk mitigation plan is planned for October. (MCOT online news)