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GIEWS Update-detail
FAO/GIEWS Global Watch

25 July 2005

Tropical Storms, Typhoons and Monsoon Floods in Asia

Since the start of this year’s summer monsoon season in June, a combination of typhoons, tropical storms, and heavy rains has seriously affected a number of countries in Asia including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, and DPR Korea. Hundreds of people have been killed and hundreds of thousands had to be evacuated. Very high economic losses and serious food shortages have been reported in the affected areas. As monsoon rains are due to continue in the next couple of months, the situation could worsen considerably.

In India, severe floods in the last two weeks have devastated the northeastern Indian state of Assam, killing at least 15 people along the major Brahmaputra river system. Nine districts have been hit by floods, the worst hit being Dhemaji, where at least 400 villages have been submerged.

The western state of Gujarat and central Madhya Pradesh were reportedly hit by heavy monsoon flooding in early July, killing more than 130 people. Waters have since ebbed there, but nonetheless, based on the official report, floods in Gujarat have affected more than 2 million people, destroyed thousands of homes, and left 500 000 people homeless. A little later, the heavy rains hit Madhya Pradesh, badly affecting some 1760 villages with 40 fully submerged. Grain stocks have been reportedly washed away or rotted and crop seeds also lost in many families. A number of paddy fields and banana plantations were submerged and horticultural and agricultural activities affected.

In neighbouring Bangladesh, at least 15 people have been killed by drowning or snake bites and nearly a million people have been stranded by a new wave of heavy floods over the past week. The Teesta, Jamuna and Brahmaputra rivers, which flow from India, have been overflowing, forcing many people to live on river islands. Official reports (July 21) indicate that at least 10 000 people have been displaced and some 2 000 homes destroyed.

In Pakistan, the snowmelt, combined with the annual monsoon rains, has caused heavy flooding of the northern Kabul and Swat rivers, tributaries of the Indus River and led to emergency situations in parts of North West Frontier Province, Punjab province, and Sindh province during the last several weeks. Floods have affected more than 460 000 people and killed over 30 persons. Some 950 000 hectares of crop land have also been reportedly damaged. Based on meteorologists in Islamabad, this year’s flooding has been worse than usual due to above average summer temperatures across northern Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past four weeks, which have led to the largest snowmelt in the last 100 years.

In China, Typhoon Haitang last week has forced the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people in Fujian and Zhejiang, the two major rice producing provinces. In Fujian, the severe flooding caused by torrential rains has affected more than 2 million people, displaced 863 000 people, and injured 21. The government report indicates that direct economic losses have reached 2633 million yuan (or 320 million US dollars). In the southern coastal province of Zhejiang, more than 6 million people have been reportedly affected and 558 000 people displaced. The direct economic losses are estimated at 5460 million yuan (664 million US dollars). The losses are expected to continue to increase as the rains continue in the region. Before entering the Mainland, Typhoon Haitang swept Taiwan, killing at least 10 people and causing agricultural damage assessed at T$1.3 billion (or 41 million US dollars).

Floods have always been the major natural disaster in China, but this year has been reportedly more devastating than usual. Up to the middle of July, floods in China have reportedly affected 90 million people, killed more than 764 people, and destroyed more than 700 000 houses. Some seven million hectares of crops have been destroyed. Direct economic losses have been estimated at 5.79 billion US dollars. The worst hit regions are in the country’s major rice producing provinces, including Fujian, Hunan, Guangxi, Guangdong, Jiangxi, Anhui, Sichuan, Hunan, and Heilongjiang.

In DPR Korea, floods in the second dekad of July in the South Pyongnan Province killed at least 88 people and destroyed about 1 080 houses. Food crops have been seriously damaged in the affected area.