Global crisis unleashed: 2023's devastating floods

December 22, 2023, 8:50 pm

ANKARA – Severe natural disasters triggered by climate change marked a calamitous year with thousands tragically killed around the globe.

Considered among the most destructive natural disasters humanity faces, flood catastrophes claimed thousands of lives in 2023. Nearly every nation suffered fatalities and devastation due to the relentless havoc caused by floods.

Anadolu’s “Disasters of 2023” special series covers the flood disasters during the year.

Climate change, carbon emissions, and various environmental factors have influenced changing precipitation patterns, prompting a surge in global flood disasters, affecting numerous countries.

In addition to the tragic loss of lives, floods have left a trail of extensive damage, wreaking havoc on settlements and agricultural areas.

Largest flood disaster of the year happened in Libya

The “Daniel Storm” hit eastern Libya on Sept.10 and triggered disasters in cities like Benghazi, Bayda, Marj, Sousse and Derna in the Central Mediterranean.

The flood in the east resulted in more than 4,300 fatalities, including at least 17,000 children, and displaced 40,000 victims internally.

About 70 percent of the infrastructure in the affected eastern regions suffered damage.

Ninety-five percent of educational institutions were damaged, leading to a 10-day nationwide suspension of education.

A three-day mourning period was declared for victims.

Derna recorded as worst-hit city

The Bumansur Dam (23 million cubic meter capacity) and Al-Bilad Dam (1.5 million cubic meter capacity) were built in Libya between 1973 and 1977 for flood control and irrigation purposes. The collapse of both dams submerged the city of Derna.

Decomposing bodies under debris and mixing sewage water with drinking water raised the risk of a disease outbreak.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that the disaster displaced 40,000 residents.

Libyan National Unity Government spokesman Muhammad Hammude noted the rainfall was the highest in more than 40 years.

A report by the World Weather Attribution suggested human-induced climate change has made the disaster in Libya 50 times more likely.

Hundreds dead in Congo flood

In the South Kivu province of the Congo, 438 victims were killed in a flood disaster caused by heavy rains in May.

The country declared a national mourning period after the disaster.

Heavy rains hit Greece

Greece has seen heavy rains since Sept. 5, resulting in the loss of 17 lives.

Widespread power outages disrupted communication for many stranded in disaster areas. Search and rescue teams intervened in inaccessible regions by utilizing inflatable boats.

The floods prompted the suspension of primary and secondary education in the Thessaly region.

In Volos, one of the hardest-hit cities, sheep and goats consumed 300 kilograms (661 pounds) of medical hemp from a flooded greenhouse.

In a mining site landslide in the North Kivu province, at least 100 workers were trapped underground.

Hurricanes, storms left thousands homeless

Typhoon Doksuri triggered devastating floods in August, prompting 1.2 million residents to evacuate their homes in China’s Hubei province.

Authorities swiftly established 155 reservoirs and eight collection basins that were strategically positioned to mitigate the flooding menace surrounding Beijing and Tianjin.

The Guangdong province in the southern region faced a deluge in September, prompting a search for more than 70 crocodiles that escaped a nearby farm.

Cyclone Freddy wreaked havoc in Malawi in April, leaving 537 people missing. The storm, affecting the southeastern coast of Africa, claimed more than 1,000 lives, caused extensive damage to infrastructure and displaced more than half a million residents.

Peru grappled with the aftermath of Tropical Storm Yaku in March, resulting in flooding that left 2,500 families homeless in Lima, Cieneguilla, Chosica, Chaclacayo, Ate, San Juan de Lurigancho, Carabayllo, and Punta Hermosa. The storm, along with floods and landslides, led to 499 fatalities and 1,332 injuries.

In June, the anticipated Biparjoy storm triggered the evacuation of more than 150,000 residents in India and Pakistan.

In Japan, June’s tropical Typhoon Mawar caused one fatality and forced the temporary evacuation of 2 million residents.

Monsoon rains affect thousands of lives

Monsoon rains in August displaced 60,000 in Myanmar and stranded 700,000 in Bangladesh from floods and landslides.

At least 1.2 million people in the regions, including Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram, Bandarban, and Rangamati, were affected.

In Pakistan, 215 lives were lost in disasters and accidents caused by monsoon rains starting at the end of June. Severe monsoon rains led to flooding in the Punjab province, and 14,000 residents had to leave their homes.

Flood disasters displaced thousands in every region of the world

In April, floods in southern Somalia affected 460,000 people, prompting a UN call for urgent assistance.

Flooding along the Shabelle River was deemed the worst in 30 years, submerging 79% of Beledweyne. In November, heavy rainfall forced 500,000 to abandon their homes.

Ghana faced flooding in October, displacing 26,000 due to the overflow of the Akosombo Dam. Following the flood, malaria and typhoid outbreaks affected the region, keeping more than 19,000 children out of school.

In June, severe rainfall in India’s Assam state flooded 108 villages, displacing more than 115,000 residents.

In Yemen’s central city of Marib, heavy rainfall and flooding in March displaced over 9,000 families. (Anadolu)