Millions stranded, dozens dead as flooding hits Bangladesh and India

A fruit vendor sells bananas along a flooded street following heavy rains in Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Heavy rains have caused widespread flooding in parts of Bangladesh and India, leaving millions stranded and at least 57 dead, officials said Saturday.

In Bangladesh, about two million people have been marooned by the worst floods in the country’s northeast for nearly two decades.

At least 100 villages at Zakiganj were inundated after floodwater rushing from India’s northeast breached a major embankment on the Barak River, said Mosharraf Hossain, the chief government administrator of the Sylhet region.

“Some two million people have been stranded by floods so far,” he told AFP, adding that at least 10 people have been killed this week.

Many parts of Bangladesh and neighbouring regions in India are prone to flooding, and experts say that is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events around the world.

Every extra degree of global warming increases the amount of water in the atmosphere by about seven percent, with inevitable effects on rainfall.

At least 47 people have been killed in India this week in days of flooding, landslides and thunderstorms, according to local disaster management authorities.

In Assam state, which borders Bangladesh, at least 14 people have died in landslides and floods.

Assam authorities said Saturday more than 850,000 people in about 3,200 villages have been affected by the floods, triggered by that submerged swathes of farmland and damaged thousands of homes.

Nearly 90,000 people have been moved to state-run relief shelters as in rivers run high and large swathes of land remain submerged in most districts.

West of Assam, at least 33 people were killed in Bihar state in thunderstorms on Thursday.

More than three dozen people were injured in the unseasonal weather events that damaged hundreds of hectares of standing crops and thousands of fruit trees.

Bihar has also suffered an intense heatwave this week, with temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

‘Blessing and curse’

In Bangladesh’s Zakiganj, people were seen fishing on submerged roads and some residents took their cattle to flood shelters.

Bus driver Shamim Ahmed, 50, told AFP: “My house is under waist . There is no , we are harvesting .

“Rain is simultaneously a blessing and a curse for us now.”

All the furniture in widow Lalila Begum’s home was ruined, she said, but she and her two daughters were staying put, hoping the waters would recede within a day or two.

“My two daughters and I put one bed on another and are living on top of it,” she said. “There’s scarcity of food. We’re sharing one person’s food and one meal a day.”

Floodwater has entered many parts of Sylhet city, the largest in the northeast, where another official told AFP about 50,000 families had been without power for days.

Hossain, the chief administrator, said the flooding was driven by both rains and the onrush of water from across the border in Assam.

But officials said the broken embankment on the border at Zakiganj could only be fixed once the level dropped.



© 2022 AFP

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Millions stranded, dozens dead as flooding hits Bangladesh and India (2022, May 21)
retrieved 23 May 2022
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Unexpected hope for millions as bleached coral reefs continue to supply nutritious seafood

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A reef dominated by macroalgae. Credit: Professor Nick Graham, Lancaster University

Researchers studying coral reefs damaged by rising sea temperatures have discovered an unexpected ‘bright spot’ of hope for communities who depend upon them for food security.

Coral reef ecosystems support diverse small-scale fisheries—and the fish they catch are rich in micronutrients vital to the health of millions of people in the tropics, a new Lancaster University-led study reveals.

And, counter-intuitively, following bleaching events that kill off coral and can transform the composition of reef ecosystems, reef fisheries can remain rich sources of micronutrients, even increasing in nutritional value for some minerals.

The findings, published today in the journal One Earth, show that the availability of micronutrients from coral reef small-scale fisheries may be more resilient to climate change than previously thought. This increased understanding is critical as continued global warming means coral bleaching events are becoming more frequent and more severe, placing greater stress on these vulnerable ecosystems.

Dr. James Robinson, who led the study, said: “Our findings underline the continuing importance of these fisheries for vulnerable coastal communities, and the need to protect against over-fishing to ensure long-term sustainability of reef fisheries.”

Rabbit fish, Victoria Market, Seychelles. Credit: Dr James Robinson

The researchers also caution that while these fisheries have proved more resilient to climate change disturbance than expected, continued understanding of the long-term impacts of climate change to coral reef fisheries, and more data from other regions, are urgent priorities.

More than six million people work in small-scale fisheries that rely on tropical coral reefs. Their catches help to feed hundreds of millions of coastal people in regions with high prevalence of malnourishment, causing stunting, wasting and anemia. However, until now, the nutritional composition of coral reef fish catches, and how climate change might affect the nutrients available from reef fisheries, was not known.

This study, led by scientists from Lancaster University and involving an international team of researchers from the Seychelles, Australia, Canada and Mozambique, benefitted from more than 20 years of long-term monitoring data from the Seychelles, where tropical reefs were damaged by a large coral bleaching event in 1998, killing an estimated 90% of the corals.

Following the mass-bleaching event, around 60% of the recovered to a coral-dominated system, but around 40% were transformed to reefs dominated by seaweeds. These differences provided a natural experiment for the scientists to compare the micronutrients available from fisheries on reefs with different climate-driven ecosystem compositions.

A recovering coral reef, Seychelles. Credit: Professor Nick Graham

The scientists, who used a combination of experimental fishing, nutrient analysis, and visual surveys of fish communities in the Seychelles, calculated that reef fish are important sources of selenium and zinc, and contain levels of calcium, iron and omega-3 fatty acids comparable to other animal-based foods, such as chicken and pork.

They also found that iron and zinc are more concentrated in fish caught on reefs that have been transformed after coral bleaching and are now dominated by macroalgae such as Sargassum seaweeds. These seaweeds have high levels of minerals, which, researchers believe, is a key reason why the algal-feeding herbivorous fishes found in greater numbers on transformed reefs contain higher levels of iron and zinc.

Dr. Robinson said: “Coral reef fish contain high levels of essential dietary nutrients such as iron and zinc, so contribute to healthy diets in places with high fish consumption. We found that some micronutrient-rich reef species become more abundant after coral bleaching, enabling fisheries to supply nutritious food despite climate change impacts. Protecting catches from these local food systems should be a priority.”

The researchers believe the results underline the need for effective local management to protect the sustainability of reef fisheries, as well as policies that retain more of reef fish catches for local people and promote traditional fish-based diets. These can help reef fisheries to best contribute to healthy diets across the tropics.

Parrotfish, Seychelles. Credit: Dr James Robinson

Professor Christina Hicks, a co-author on the study, said: “Fish are now recognized as critical to alleviating malnutrition, particularly in the tropics where diets can lack up to 50% of the micronutrients needed for healthy growth. This work is promising because it suggests fisheries will continue to play a crucial role, even in the face of climate change, and highlights the vital importance of investing in sustainable fisheries management.”

The findings are outlined in the paper “Climate-induced increases in micronutrient availability for coral .”

The study’s authors include: James Robinson, Eva Maire, Nick Graham and Christina Hicks from Lancaster University; Nathalie Bodin from Seychelles Fishing Authority and Sustainable Ocean Seychelles; Tessa Hempson from James Cook University and Oceans Without Borders; Shaun Wilson from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions in Australia, and Oceans Institute, Australia; and Aaron MacNeil from Dalhousie University.



More information:
James P.W. Robinson, Climate-induced increases in micronutrient availability for coral reef fisheries, One Earth (2022). DOI: 10.1016/j.oneear.2021.12.005. www.cell.com/one-earth/fulltex … 2590-3322(21)00723-5

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Unexpected hope for millions as bleached coral reefs continue to supply nutritious seafood (2022, January 6)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps

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Sweltering conditions hit much of the Pacific seaboard and as far inland as the western edge of the Rocky Mountains over the weekend.

Millions of people across the western United States and Canada were hit Sunday by a new round of scorching hot temperatures, with some roads closed, train traffic limited and new evacuations ordered.

In Canada, with wildfires continuing to spread—including 50 more blazes erupting in the past two days—the government announced new emergency measures aimed at preventing further fires.

Sweltering conditions hit much of the Pacific seaboard and as far inland as the western edge of the Rocky Mountains over the weekend.

“A dangerous heat wave will affect much of the western US, with record-breaking temperatures likely,” the National Weather service said on its website Sunday, while Canadian meteorologists predicted highs approaching 90 Fahrenheit (32 Celsius) in parts of western Canada—well above seasonal norms.

Las Vegas on Saturday matched its all-time record of 117 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the National Weather Service (NWS)—a recorded in the desert entertainment city once in 1942 and three other times since 2005.

Sunday was expected to be only a few degrees cooler there, while Death Valley, California—often the nation’s hottest spot—was headed for a high of 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

Forecasters issued an excessive heat warning for several other urban centers including the southern city of Phoenix and San Jose, the center of the Silicon Valley tech industry south of San Francisco.

Death Valley, California—often the nation’s hottest spot—was headed for a high of 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

The weekend’s hot weather follows an earlier heat wave that struck the western United States and Canada at the end of June.

The scorching conditions saw the all-time record daily temperature broken three days in a row in the Canadian province of British Columbia.

Warming temperatures

Canadian transport minister Omar Alghabra on Sunday announced new emergency measures aimed at preventing further wildfires in the tinder-dry region, including steps to slow or limit train traffic.

Trains are a common cause of wildfires, often when their spark-arresting devices are poorly maintained.

Several roads and highways in the area have been closed as the government rated the wildfire risk in much of the province as “extreme.” A dozen towns or locales remained under evacuation orders.

The Canadian government has sent investigators to the town of Lytton, 150 miles (250 kilometers) northeast of Vancouver, to see whether a passing cargo train might have caused a late June fire that destroyed 90 percent of the town.

The overall death toll in British Columbia was not yet known but is thought to run into the hundreds.

As of Sunday morning, the number of wildfires across British Columbia was continuing to rise, hitting 298, authorities said.

In the US state of Oregon, the Bootleg Fire more than tripled in size between Friday and Sunday, gaining more than 100,000 acres, according to the US Forest Service.

Last month was the hottest June on record in North America, according to data released by the European Union’s climate monitoring service.

Human activity has driven up, stoking increasingly fierce storms, extreme heatwaves, droughts and wildfires.

The World Meteorological Organization and Britain’s Met Office said in May there was a 40 percent chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily surpassing 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial temperatures within the next five years.

The past six years, including 2020, have been the six warmest on record.



© 2021 AFP

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Millions sweltering in US west as Canada takes emergency steps (2021, July 12)
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