1st January 2020, marked the beginning of a new decade and while people looked upon it with new-found hopes and promises, the year seems to be hell-bent on ambushing the optimism of people all across the world. Now that nearly half of the year is passed, we can easily conclude that the year is nothing but a curse on mankind.
Everyone is wondering if this year gets worse and whether this is just an indication of what our future holds for us. Even if this year gets better, the damage which has already been done cannot be neglected, and its scar will remain forever. Since the beginning of the year, we have been dealing with various disasters. This year, the world witnessed Australian bushfires, the Taal volcano eruption, earthquakes in Turkey, Locusts swarm, and many other unfortunate events.
Let’s have a close look at some of them-
Ø Australian Bushfire
Bushfires are not a new thing to Australia, but the 2019-20 season proved to be unpredictable in many ways. The first series of the event began in June 2019, but by November 2019 the situation got out of control. Although heavy rain in mid- January 2020, gave some relief in some areas however it was nowhere enough to extinguish the fire.
● Nearly 46 million acres (72,000 square miles) of land have been burned in thousands of fires since June 2019.
● At least 34 people are reported dead since October 2019, most of the casualties were in January.
● Smoke pollution due to these fires may have killed more than 400 people.
● More than one billion animals died.
● Nearly 4000 homes and many buildings were turned into ashes.
● Australian fishing and tourism sector was severely impacted.
● Loss of around USD 2.4 billion.
Ø 2020 Spring Tornadoes
Since the beginning of the year, the US has continuously been affected by multiple tornadoes. As per reports on 23 April, 458 tornadoes have been reported which is higher than the average number of tornadoes (322) by the end of April and is also approximately equal to one-third of the number of annual tornadoes. As per the reports of May, by The Weather Network,2020 is declared as “the deadliest tornado season” since 2011. There have been nine devastating tornado events so far in 2020.
Affected regions – Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, northern Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Ø Cyclone Amphan
The strongest cyclone in over a decade, the super cyclone Amphan made landfall near India-Bangladesh border in May 2020. Since 1999, it is the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal region. It was a devastating cyclone, and at it’s best, its speed was about 270 km/h.
● At least 128 people have been reported dead (4 in Sri Lanka, 98 in India and 22 in Bangladesh)
● More than 12,000 Mangrove trees are destroyed in the Sundarban delta region by Amphan.
● Loss of infrastructure worth $200,000 in the Sundarban delta region alone.
● In India, 14 million people were deprived of electricity.
● Loss of USD 13 billion alone in West Bengal.
● More than 500,000 thousand families lost their homes.
Ø Puerto Rico Earthquakes
Puerto Rico has been continuously dealing with earthquakes since 22 December 2019. More than 2400 earthquakes have been reported so far (2445) as of 10 March 2020. They are the fatal series of earthquakes in Puerto Rico for the last three decades. These earthquakes represent the extension of Punta Montalva Fault on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, which was discovered recently.
● Initial damage of USD 3.1 billion.
● The Costa Rica power plant, which is the largest on the island, took a significant amount of damage and can take about a year for its repairs.
● Power and water were out for several days affecting thousands of people.
● To the best estimate, at least 3261 homes are severely damaged or even destroyed.
● Affected cities – Guánica, Utuado, Guayanilla, Peñuelas, Ponce and Yauco.
Ø Taal Volcano Eruption
On 12 January 2020, hot red lava gushed out of Taal Volcano in the Philippines. There was a sudden eruption of ash and steam, which forced the villagers to flee their homes. Manila’s international airport was shut down, and as a result of which more than 240 domestic and international flights were canceled. Fortunately, no casualty was reported.
Ø Earthquakes in Turkey and the Caribbean
On 24 January, a total of 41 people were killed in eastern Turkey due to an earthquake. In this earthquake, 1,600 people were injured and hospitalized.
The earthquake was of a magnitude 6.7, and it was felt near Elazig province, and ten buildings collapsed due to this.
It was also felt in the neighboring provinces of Diyarbakır, Malatya, and Adıyaman, and the neighboring countries of Armenia, Syria, and Iran.
On 28 January, another powerful earthquake of magnitude 7.7 was observed in the Caribbean region, resulting in a lot of property damage.
Ø Locusts swarm in East Africa and South Asia.
Various East African and South Asian countries witnessed the worst infestation for a quarter of a century in 2020. The scale of the locust outbreak was enormous and one of its kind in recent years. Billions of Locust swarmed through parts of East Africa and South Asia, causing damage to many food crops. For them, it was a matter of hours to descend into a land full of crops and turn it into pasture land. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation, this locust swarm has affected the food security of more than 250 million people.
Ø Floods in Indonesia
Indonesia’s capital Jakarta and nearby towns were flooded on the very first day of the year. Sixty-six people were killed in it, and almost 400,000 people had to leave their house.
The first half of the year was quite disturbing, and it witnessed a stretch of adverse events. Other than these natural disasters, there were many plane crashes, explosions in various factories, and the pandemic outbreak of Ebola, apart from the deathly coronavirus which people are battling against till date.Let’s hope that the next half of the year bring some fruitful events.