Severe flooding kills one as Storm Barra drenches northern Spain

By Vincent West

PAMPLONA, Spain (Reuters) – Severe flooding in Spain’s Navarre region submerged cars and houses and killed at least one person on Friday as heavy rains from Storm Barra caused rivers to burst their banks.

Police said one person in the small village of Sunbilla died on Friday afternoon after a landslide caved in the roof of an outbuilding at their farmhouse.

In the regional capital of Pamplona people kayaked down a street, gliding past a bank as rescue workers waded into the waist-deep waters with pumps.

In the center of Villava, a small town just outside the city, houses were submerged up to their roofs.

The regional government declared a level 2 flood emergency and said similar conditions were likely on Saturday, with the focus of the flooding heading south toward the town of Peralta.

“The problem isn’t so much in the amount of precipitation but the level of the rivers,” regional interior secretary Amparo Lopez told reporters.

After a cold snap sent temperatures plunging across Spain, Storm Barra has brought torrential rains and thawed snow and ice at higher altitudes, causing rivers to rise rapidly.

(Additional reporting and writing by Nathan Allen; editing by John Stonestreet)

Floods, landslides kill more than 800 people across South Asia

People use a boat as they try to move to safer places along a flooded street in West Midnapore district, in West Bengal

By Ruma Paul and Zarir Husain

DHAKA/GUWAHATI, India (Reuters) – Widespread floods have killed more than 800 people and displaced over a million in India, Nepal and Bangladesh, with aid workers warning of severe food shortages and water-borne diseases as rains continue to lash the affected areas.

Seasonal monsoon rains, a lifeline for farmers across South Asia, typically cause loss of life and property every year between July and September, but officials say this year’s flooding is the worst in several years.

At least 115 people have died and more than 5.7 million are affected in Bangladesh as floods submerged more than a third of the low-lying and densely populated country.

“The water level has gradually dropped. The flood situation will improve if it does not rain upstream any further,” Sazzad Hossain, executive engineer of Bangladesh’s Flood Forecasting and Warning Center, told Reuters.

Reaz Ahmed, the director general of Bangladesh’s Disaster Management Department, said there are rising concerns about food shortages and the spread of disease.

“With the flood waters receding, there is a possibility of an epidemic. We fear the outbreak of water-borne diseases if clean water is not ensured soon,” Ahmed told Reuters.

With some rivers running above danger levels, 225 bridges have been damaged in Bangladesh, disrupting food and medicine supplies to people displaced from their homes, said aid workers.

In the Indian state of Assam bordering Bangladesh, at least 180 people have been killed in the past few weeks.

“With the floods washing away everything… there is not even a trace of our small thatched hut,” said Lakshmi Das, a mother of three, living in Kaliabor, Assam.

“We do not even have a second pair of clothes to wear. The government is not providing any aid.”

Villagers use a boat as they row past partially submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Morigaon district in Assam,

Villagers use a boat as they row past partially submerged houses at a flood-affected village in Morigaon district in Assam, July 14, 2017. REUTERS/Anuwar Hazarika

Torrential rains have also hit the northeastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, killing at least 30 people.

Flood waters of the Brahmaputra river had earlier in July submerged the Kaziranga wildlife sanctuary in Assam. The floods have since killed more than 350 animals, including 24 endangered one-horned rhinoceros, five elephants and a tiger.

“We are facing a wildlife disaster,” Assam Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma told Reuters.

Meanwhile, in the eastern state of Bihar, at least 253 people lost their lives where incessant rains washed away crops, destroyed roads and disrupted power supplies.

A senior official in Bihar’s disaster management department, Anirudh Kumar, said nearly half a million people have been provided with shelter.

In Nepal, 141 people were confirmed dead, while thousands of survivors returned to their semi-destroyed homes.

“Their homes are in a state of total destruction,” said Francis Markus from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.


(Reporting by Gopal Sharma in Kathmandu, Zarir Husain in Assam, Jatindra Das in Bhubaneswar, Ruma Paul in Dhaka; Writing by Rupam Jain in New Delhi,; Editing by Tommy Wilkes and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)


Rivers swollen by Hurricane Matthew inundate North Carolina towns

A flooded church is pictured after Hurricane Matthew passes in Lumberton, North Carolina

By Gene Cherry

KINSTON, N.C. (Reuters) – Authorities in North Carolina helped residents evacuate on Tuesday as floodwaters inundated some towns and threatened others in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, which killed 14 people in the state.

Governor Pat McCrory, who announced the new death toll, warned of “extremely dangerous” conditions in the next 72 hours in central and eastern parts of North Carolina, where several rivers are in major flood stage and nearing record levels.

Wendy Key, 40, fled with her six children to a shelter in Kinston to escape flooding from the Neuse River, located about a mile from their rented home, which she had just redecorated and stocked with a new refrigerator and stove. Her brother told her the water was now waist-deep in the house.

“The water started coming pretty quickly and we had to get up and get ready in no time,” Key said. “It was very alarming and disturbing.”

Matthew, the most powerful Atlantic storm since 2007, killed at least 1,000 people in Haiti last week before barreling up the U.S. southeastern coast and killing more than 20 people in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.

The storm dumped more than a foot (30 cm) of rain in areas of North Carolina already soaked from heavy September rainfall, prompting concern that the state could see its worst flooding since Hurricane Floyd in September 1999.

That storm caused record floods in North Carolina and was blamed for 35 deaths, 7,000 destroyed homes and more than $3 billion in damages in the state.

The flooding from Matthew prompted President Barack Obama to declare on Monday that a major disaster exists in North Carolina, making federal recovery funding available in 31 counties, McCrory said.

Emergency officials have conducted more than 2,000 rescues in the state, where 32 school systems are closed, major highways remain blocked and nearly 4,000 people have taken refuge in shelters.

Officials are monitoring a number of overtopped or breaching dams in addition to the threat of inland flooding from rivers, the governor’s office said.

Two of the additional deaths reported by McCrory on Tuesday were of people found in vehicles submerged in water. Three people are considered missing, he said.

The governor urged residents to heed evacuation orders and to avoid driving through flooded areas.

“Too many people have died,” he told reporters at the state’s Emergency Operations Center in Raleigh. “And we don’t want any more to die.”

He said a man was fatally shot by a state highway patrol officer in Lumberton on Monday night after a confrontation occurred during rescue efforts in a flooded area.

McCrory said he did not yet have full details about the incident, which is being investigated by state police.

(Writing by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott)

Volcanic Eruptions Reduce Flow of Major Rivers

Scientists have found that volcanic eruptions affect the flow of the world’s major rivers.

New research from the University of Edinburgh shows that aerosol particles ejected into the air following volcanic eruptions don’t just contaminate the atmosphere, they can often trigger rainfall shortages that ultimately affect river systems worldwide.

In the first study of its kind, University of Edinburgh scientists Carley Iles and Gabriele Hegerl compared annual water flow in 50 rivers around the world with the timing of major volcanic eruptions, notably Agug in 1963, El Chichon in 1982 and Pinatubo in 1991.

For some rivers, records went back into the 19th century, making it possible to take into account earlier eruptions too.

They discovered that a year or two after these volcanoes hurled massive amounts of debris into the upper atmosphere they created a partial sunscreen and the flows of tropical rivers decreased.

On the contrary, river flow increased in some regions, including the U.S. southwest and parts of South America. Researchers linked this to the disruption of atmospheric circulation patterns.

Dr. Carley Iles, from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh, said in a statement. “Our findings reveal the indirect effect that volcanoes can have on rivers, and could be very valuable in the event of a major volcanic eruption in future,”

The study, published in Nature Geoscience, cautioned against so-called geo-engineering schemes that have been proposed as an answer for cooling down an overheated planet or global warming.

“As well as affecting river flow and rainfall, volcanic eruptions have a cooling effect on climate,” Dr Iles said.

“All of these impacts come about because volcanoes inject particles — sulfate aerosols — high up into the atmosphere, and these spread out and reflect sunlight back out into space.”