Cyclone Pam

 

Widespread devastation has been caused by cyclone Pam after it struck Vanuatuon 13thMarch.

 

Official figures from OCHA claim that there are now 11 confirmed fatalities. The death toll figures have varied from 16 to 24 but revised to 11 on 22ndMarch. According to reports fatalities occurred on theisland ofTafea,Efate and Tanna.

 

166,600 people have also been affected on the nations 22 islands, 3392 are currently living in 30 evacuation centres set up and 65,000 are in need of temporary shelter.

 

Infrastructure such as bridges, roads, and power and communication lines have been damaged or destroyed, making it difficult or impossible to reach the other islands. Officials claim that 20% to 90% of homes, schools, clinics and churches have been destroyed. Some villages have witnessed 100% destruction. In the provinces of Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea, 14,000 homes are believed to have been destroyed or damaged by Pam. The islands of Nanumaga, Nanumea, Nui, Tanna and Vaitupu are the worst affected.

 

Crops have also suffered damage or have been destroyed and fishing fleets and livestock have been killed. Water and sanitation infrastructure have also been damaged or destroyed raising concerns of access to safe drinking water and the spread of diseases.

 

The number of fatalities is unfortunately likely to increase as the isolated islands are reached over the next few days. The true scale of the devastation will also become clearer when an assessment is carried out across the islands.

 

A state of emergency has been declared by officials who believe this could be the worse disaster to be witnessed in the southern Pacific. Relief effort is currently taking place with aid being provided to the victims. Shortage of food and drinking water has been of concern over the last few days.

 

Cyclone Pam also caused damage to other islands includingSolomonIslands,TuvaluandKiribati. Flash floods caused by heavy rainfall and storm surge affected theislandofTuvalucausing significant damage to infrastructure and agriculture. A state of emergency has also been declared on this island nation.New   Caledonia,Fijiand NewZealandwere also in the path of cyclone Pam. 30,000 people are believed to have been affected on these islands.

 

Cyclone Pam formed on 6th March, gradually intensifying to a tropical depression on 8th March and gaining cyclone status on 9thMarch. On 10th March Pam further intensified into a Category 3 cyclone and on 12th March it became an intense Category 5 storm with maximum wind speed of 270 km/h (165mph) and lowest recorded pressure of 896 mbar. Cyclone Pam remained a Category 5 cyclone for 36 hours and struck Vanuatu as a Category 5 storm. Pam weakened to a Category 4 on 15thMarch and further weakened to an extratropical storm on 16th March.

 

Natural Disaster News

Storms in Tanzania kill 47

47 people have been killed after storms bringing heavy rainfall, high wind speeds and hail struck the villages of Mwakata, Magung’unhwa and Nhumbi in Msalala district on 3 March 2015. 5000 people have been affected, 3500 have been made homeless and 634 homes have been damaged or destroyed. 500 people were offered temporary shelter in two schools in the vicinity.

Natural Disaster News

Fogo eruption update

The eruption at Fogo ended on 8 February 2015 according to The Observatório Vulcanológico de Cabo Verde. In early January the activity started decreasing. The eruption which began on 23 November 2014 caused devastation to villages in the vicinity of the volcano. 95% of the village of Portelaand  and 70% of Bangaeira were destroyed leaving an estimated 1500 people from these two villages homeless.

 

Numerous infrastructure and homes were also buried and destroyed by the lava flows. Fortunately no casualties were reported due to early evacuations.

 

According to the Global Volcanism Program both sulphur dioxide emissions and temperatures of fumaroles has decreased significantly.

Natural Disaster News

Turrialba Eruption

Turrialba volcano located in Costa Rica erupted on 8th March forcing closure of Juan Santamaría International Airport and Tobias Bolaños airport along with ten schools in San José located 30 miles from the volcano. According to reports the eruption on 12th March which led to the closure of the airports delayed 111 flights and over 7,000 passengers.

 

Roads in the vicinity of the volcano were also closed due to the eruption. Authorities began to evacuate those living within one mile of the volcano after the eruption covered surrounding areas with ash. According to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica, ash covered areas over 20 miles (40 km) from Turrialba volcano.

 

The eruption was phreatic in nature and became more intense involving both gas and ash. On 11th March moderate ash columns took place followed by the most significant eruption since 1996 on 12th March. The eruptions on 12th March lasted six and 23 minutes erupting ash plumes 1 km (3,200 feet) into the atmosphere. The first eruption on the day began at 11:00 am, followed by the larger one at 14:12 pm.

The airports reopened on 13th March after activity decreased in intensity.

Natural Disaster News

Villarrica eruption

Villarrica, a stratovolcano located in southern Chile erupted spectacularly on 3rd March causing authorities to evacuate over 3600 people from the vicinity of the volcano.

The volcano, measuring 2847 metres  is one the country’s  most active volcano with numerous documented eruptions of which the majority have been a VEI 1 or VEI 2. Villarrica’s most violent eruptions according to radicarbon dating took place  in 1810 (+/- 200) measuring a VEI 5 and in 0…670 BCE measuring a VEI 4.

 

According to the Global Volcanism Program, Villarrica showed signs of activity in early December last year; however the activity was minimal and only began to intensify in February 2015. In early February the volcano experienced an increase in seismicity, sulphur dioxide emissions, crater incandescence and lava lake temperature. Strombolian eruptions took place during early to mid February emitting ash plumes and ejecting tephra (including lava bombs measuring 5 metres in diameter) several metres high.

 

From 28th February to 2nd March the volcano showed signs of greater increase in activity including significant seismic activity, further strombolian activity, ejection of tephra and an increase in the level of the lava lake.  On 3rd March at approximately 03:00 am after an increase in seismic levels the most significant eruption took place. A lava fountain was produced reaching heights of 1.5 km, tephra was ejected several metres around the volcano and lava flows travelled down the volcano. An ash plume was also produced, reaching a height of up to 8 km and travelled 400 km towards the east.

 

The Alert Level was raised to Red from Orange and a 10 km exclusion was placed as a result of the increased intensity of the eruption. Residents within this zone including those from the towns of Pucon and Conaripe were evacuated as a precautionary measure but returned when the intensity of the eruption decreased later that evening.

 

Due to a decline in activity on 5th March, the exclusion zone was reduced to 5 km and the Alert Level was lowered to Orange. A further decline in activity continued at the volcano, including decrease in seismicity and the absence of an active lava lake on 6th March and subsidence of material in the crater and decrease in gas levels on 9th March. The Alert Level was lowered to Yellow on 10th March as a result; however a 3 km exclusion zone remains due to fear of avalanches on the volcano.

Natural Disaster News

Fogo Eruption Update

50 homes, roads, a school, tanks, pens, farm land and agricultural support facilities have been destroyed in the village of Portela by lava flows from Fogo. No fatalities have been reported since evacuation has already taken place since the eruption began.

The eruption is currently ongoing and on 3rd December the lava flow has slowed down and is travelling at 1 meter per hour. Attention has now turned towards the lava flow which is travelling towards the village of Bangaeira. If the lava flow continues and gains speed while travelling downhill, it is feared that the city of Grass will be on its path.

Relief efforts are currently ongoing and victims of the eruption are being provided with aid.

Natural Disaster News

Fogo eruption

An eruption at Fogo started on the morning of Sunday 23rd November. Fogo volcano is a 2829 m stratovolcano located on the island of Fogo, Cape Verde. The volcano has a 9 km wide caldera and a cone located within it called Pico which forms the highest point on the island. Pico has a crater measuring 500 m wide and 150 m deep. According to the Global Volcanism Program, Pico was continuously active since 1500 CE.

The volcano’s last eruption before Sunday was in April 1995 (over 19 years ago). the eruption in 1995 started on 2nd April and stopped on 26th May and took place on the WSW flank of the volcano. It measured a VEI 2 and covered approximately 6.3 km2 of land. According to Global Volcanism Program the total volume from this eruption was 60-100 x 106 m3. The majority of Fogo’s eruptions have measured a VEI 2. The eruption in 1500 CE measured a VEI 1.

Sundays eruption had followed on from seismic activity on Saturday night which caused the local population to sleep outside their houses. Lava fountains, lava flows and an ash plume have been erupting. Spectacular images and videos have been shown by Fogo News of the current activity.

The eruption has forced residents in the vicinity of the volcano to evacuate, seeking shelter in previously built temporary accommodations. Authorities have also closed the airport. According to reports the eruption may be more intense than the one in 1995. No fatalities or injuries have been reported.

Natural Disaster News

Magnitude 6.2 earthquake strikes Japan

A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck Japan on 22nd November 2014 at 13:08 UTC (8:18 at epicenter) with a shallow depth of 10 km (6.2 miles). The earthquake was located 16 km (10 miles) NNE of Omachi and 191 km (119miles) NW of Tokyo. The shake map for this event is shown below along with the estimated population exposure and location parameters.

Although the USGS reported this earthquake as a magnitude 6.2, a conflicting report from the The Japan Meteorological Agency measured it as a 6.8.

According to reports 39 people were injured, 7 of which were serious, 47 homes collapsed, 94 were severely damaged and a further 282 homes faced slight damage. 38 public buildings were also damaged.

Hakuba was the hardest hit area where 37 homes collapsed. In the village of Otari, 7 homes collapsed. Landslides caused as a result of the earthquake led to 200 people being evacuated from Hakuba and Otari. Fortunatley there were no fatalities from this earthquake. 21 people were trapped under rubble but they were all rescued.

Natural Disaster News

Mount Ontake

On 27th September at 11:52 JST, MountOntakesan (also known as Ontake) erupted without warning. Mount Ontake is Japan’s second highest volcano (3067m). The first historical eruption occurred in 1979 measuring a VEI 2. Between 1999 and 2007 very minor phreatic activity occurred.

This year’s eruption was phreatic in nature and followed on from seismic tremor and uplift which were detected just 11 minutes before the eruption. The eruption measured a VEI 3. According the Global Vocalism Program, there was a temporary increase in seismic activity near the summit between 10th and11th September and on the 14th September low frequency signals were detected.

The eruption on the 27th ejected an ash plume which reached heights 7 to 10km and ash fall affected the area in the vicinity, measuring 50cm in thickness around the crater. The deadly pyroclastic flow which was responsible for the fatalities travelled 3km down the south flank of the volcano.

57 fatalities occurred, 70 were injured and a further 6 are still missing. Search and rescue efforts to find the missing have been suspended due to winter and will resume in spring.

Since the event numerous photographs of the eruption taken by the victims in their last moments have been discovered.

The Alert Level has been raised to 3 (on a scale of 1 to 5) since the eruption and remains a 3

Natural Disaster News

Ongoing eruption at Bardarbunga/Holuhraun

Seismic activity increased at Iceland’s Bárdarbunga volcano from 13th August leading to the Icelandic Meteorology Office raising the Aviation Code from Yellow to Orange. Earthquakes varied in size, some even measured 5.7. On 23rd August the Aviation Code was raised to Red when it was assumed that a small lava eruption took place. However observations indicated that there was no eruption and therefore the code was downgraded to an Orange.

It was not until 29th August when the first fissure eruption occurred in Holuhraun lava field located 5 km north of the Dyngjujökull glacier. The fissure measured 600m in length. The eruption over the following weeks involved lava plumes and effusive lava flows flowing north, gas and steam. No ash plume was present and therefore the code remained Orange.

On 5th September less effusive eruptions started to make place from two new fissures located 2 km away from the Dyngjujökull glacier. Two growing depressions indicating sub-glacial activity were also observed. According to the Icelandic Meteorology Office, on 7th September the lava effusion rate was 100-200 cubic meters per second.

On 14th September surveys and data indicated that a 23m subsidence had occurred at the Bárðarbunga caldera. This increased to 28m on 24th September and 42m on 31st October. The rate of susidence varied, between 15th and 21st October it was occurring at 30 to 40cm per day.

Lava flows were also flowing towards east and west, adding to the increasing lava field. Flow rates of lava have varied since the eruption began. On 22nd September the rate was 250-350 cubic meters per second and the total volume erupted during this was was 0.4-0.6 cubic kilometres. By 14th November the lava field has covered 71.9 square kilometres and is continuing to grow.

The eruption is currently continuing in the form of effusive lava eruption and can be viewed live on webcam.

Natural Disaster News