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Yearender 2023: From Cyclone Biparjoy to China earthquake, top 10 natural calamities of this year

Yearender 2023: The worst disasters of this year fell across the spectrum, from cyclones in India, floods in Libya, to earthquakes in Nepal and China. As the year 2023 draws to a close, here's a quick roundup of the top 10 natural calamities of this year.

Written By: Anurag Roushan @Candid_Tilaiyan New Delhi Updated on: December 24, 2023 15:48 IST
Yearender 2023: Top 10 natural calamities of this year
Image Source : INDIA TV Yearender 2023: Top 10 natural calamities of this year

Yearender 2023: ​A natural disaster is a natural occurrence that causes great damage to property or loss of human life. While the world is trying to slowly recover from the menace of the coronavirus pandemic, climate change-induced natural disasters leaving no stone unturned to make lives miserable for people. From seismic tremors, land subsidence, severe cyclones to overwhelming floods and tempestuous wildfires, 2023 exceeded previous years' statistical records to become a catastrophic year. With climate change becoming more and more evident, natural disasters like floods, cyclones, landslides and cloudbursts have also been making lives wretched and sometimes even threatening. 

As the year 2023 draws to a close, here's a quick roundup of the top 10 natural calamities of this year. 

Joshimath land subsidence

The land subsidence in Uttarakhand's Joshimath made headlines at the beginning of this year. Many residential and commercial buildings in the town developed cracks due to land subsidence which propelled hundreds of residents to relocate from their hoses to safe buildings. And a number of commercial buildings also had to be demolished. According to the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA), around 900 buildings with cracks were noticed due to the disaster. The Uttarakhand government had announced relief packages worth crores for the affected families of Joshimath. Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that the relief package has been released for nearly 3,000 families affected by gradual land subsidence in the Himalayan state.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, natural calamities

Image Source : PTI. A street with major cracks due to land subsidence in Joshimath.

Turkey–Syria earthquakes

As many as 59,259 people lost their lives after a massive earthquake of 7.8 magnitude jolted parts of Turkey and Syria on February this year. 50,783 died in Turkey and 8,476 in Syria. Meanwhile, at least 164,000 buildings were either collapsed or damaged. The epicenter was 37 km west–northwest of Gaziantep -- a city in Turkey. The earthquake was the largest in Turkey since the 1939 Erzincan earthquake of the same magnitude. It was jointly the second-largest in the country, after larger estimates for the 1668 North Anatolia earthquake. It was also one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded in the Levant. It was felt as far as Egypt and the Black Sea coast of Turkey. There were more than 30,000 aftershocks in the three months that followed. An estimated 14 million people, or 16 per cent of Turkey's population, were affected. Development experts from the United Nations estimated that about 1.5 million people were left homeless. According to the United Nations, damages were estimated at USD 148.8 billion in Turkey, or nine per cent of the country's GDP, and US$14.8 billion in Syria.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, natural calamities

Image Source : APCivil defence workers and residents search through the rubbles of collapsed buildings in Harem town near the Turkish border.

Cyclone Biparjoy ravaged Gujarat

Cyclone Biparjoy made landfall on the Gujarat coast on June 16 accompanied by heavy rains. It ripped through Kutch and parts of the Saurashtra region. With wind speeds going up to 140 kmph, several trees and electricity poles got uprooted in the state. It was a powerful, and erratic tropical cyclone that formed over the east-central Arabian Sea. Several parts of Rajasthan were also affected by the cyclonic storm. Gujarat's government had responded by dispatching national and state disaster response teams to the affected areas. According to reports, 81,000 people were evacuated from Pakistan's southeast coast. At least 16 people were killed and 23 injured in India. In addition, 4,600 villages were affected by power outages in India. 

India Tv - Yearender 2023, natiral calamities

Image Source : PTICyclone Biparjoy was the longest-duration cyclonic storm in the northern Indian Ocean since 1977.

Floods in Assam 

Like every year, this year too Assam was ravaged by floods during the monsoon. According to the State's Revenue and Disaster Management Ministry, over 12 lakh people were affected due to the floods this year. The ministry revealed that 12,95,642 people and 3335 villages of the state have been affected by the floods this year. A total of 1,106 roads, 101 bridges, and 23,000 houses have also been damaged due to floods in the state this year, the ministry added. At least 14 people and over 16,0000 animals also lost their lives during the flood in the state. Following incessant rainfall in parts of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, the water levels of the Brahmaputra River and its tributaries rise almost every year leading to severe floods.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, natural disaster

Image Source : PTI. Villagers use a makeshift bamboo bridge to cross the Daranga River after the collapse of the concrete bridge due to floods at Kumrikata in Assam.

US: Hawaii wildfire

A number of wildfires broke out in the US state of Hawaii at the beginning of August, mostly on the island of Maui. The wind-driven fires prompted evacuations, inflicted extensive damage, killing at least 100 people and leaving four others missing in the town of Lahaina on Maui's northwest coast. The spread of the wildfires was attributed to dry, gusty conditions created by a strong high-pressure area north of Hawaii and Hurricane Dora to the south. On August 8, an emergency declaration was signed, authorizing several actions, including activation of the Hawaii National Guard, appropriate actions by the director of the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency and the Administrator of Emergency Management. Hawaii's state government declared a state of emergency for the whole state by August 9. Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden declared a federal catastrophic disaster on August 10.

India Tv - yearender 2023, Hawaii wildfire

Image Source : AP. The image shows a wildfire burning in Kihei, Hawaii.

Sikkim cloudburst

The cloudburst in early October led to flash floods in the northeastern state of Sikkim. South Lhonak Lake, situated in North West Sikkim had experienced a glacial lake outburst and triggered flash floods due to incessant rainfall in the region. Several people, including army soldiers and civilians, went missing in the floods. According to a official statement at least 40 people lost their life and around 80 people went missing in the state. It was considered the deadliest flood in the area after the 1968 Sikkim floods when around 1000 people were killed. Water levels downstream in the River Teesta subsequently rose by 15 to 20 feet (4.6 to 6.1 m), flooding many areas in Mangan, Gangtok, Pakyong, and Namchi districts in Sikkim, and Kalimpong, Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling districts in West Bengal. The flood also went onwards to Bangladesh, where it affected hundreds of villages along the Teesta River and Char areas. Fifteen bridges across the state were washed away, and the north of the state, including the capital Gangtok, was cut off from the rest of India as parts of National Highway 10 collapsed. Three thousand tourists were stranded across the state. Towns and cities like Chungthang, Dikchu, Singtam, Rangpo, Melli, and Teesta Bazaar were very heavily damaged.

India Tv - Yearender 2023.

Image Source : PTI. Sikkim saw a devastating flash flood following a cloudburst.

Libya Floods 

In the month of September, Storm Daniel made landfall in Libya, bringing severe weather conditions, including strong winds and sudden heavy rainfall that affected several parts of the country. The massive flooding killed more than 5,000 people, while around 10,000 went missing. In addition, thousands of families were affected due to the impact on essential services such as health, schooling and safe water supply. Footage showed hundreds of bodies covered by blankets in the yards hospitals. Online images showed mass graves piled with bodies. The devastating storm caused dams to burst and destroyed buildings in many towns, particularly in Al Bayda, Al Marj and in the coastal city of Derna. It also caused significant damage to critical infrastructure, including bridges, roads, and electricity grids. Libya, wracked by years of civil war and political strife, is no stranger to death, but the scenes of multi-story apartment buildings wiped out by the force of the waters shook Libyans to their core.

India Tv - yearender 2023, Libya floods

Image Source : AP.Mediterranean storm Daniel caused devastating floods in Libya that broke dams and swept away entire neighbourhoods in multiple coastal towns.

Nepal earthquake

An earthquake of magnitude 5.7 on the Richter Scale struck the Jajarkot district in Nepal on November 3, 2023. It kiled 153 people and rendered injuries to at least 375 others. Jajarkot Deputy Mayor Sarita Singh also lost his life in the devastating incident. The earthquake was widely felt in western Nepal and northern India, and is the deadliest to strike the country since 2015. About 4,000 personnel from the Nepalese Army, Police and Armed Police Force participated in search and rescue operations, while the national government approved a Rs 100 million fund to support in these missions. Helicopters were also deployed to deliver humanitarian aid. Data from the Earthquake Monitoring and Research Centre shows that since January 1, 2023, till date, there have been a total of 70 earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 and above in Nepal. Of these, as many as 13 were between magnitude 5 and 6 while three were above magnitude 6.0. Nepal is located at the boundary of these two plates and therefore lies in a highly active seismic region. Therefore, earthquakes are common in Nepal.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, Nepal earthquake

Image Source : AP. A woman walks past earthquake-damaged houses in Jajarkot district in the northwestern Nepal.

Indonesia volcanic eruption

As many as 23 climbers were killed and several others injured in Indonesia's Marapi volcano eruption on December 5. About 75 climbers started up the nearly 2,900-meter mountain in Agam district of West Sumatra province on December 2 and were on the volcano when it erupted the following day. Marapi shot thick columns of ash as high as 3 kilometers and hot ash clouds spread for several kilometers. Nearby villages and towns were blanketed by volcanic debris that blocked sunlight, and authorities recommended people wear masks as protection against the ash. The volcano has been at Indonesia’s second-highest alert level since 2011, indicating above-normal volcanic activity under which climbers and villagers must stay more than 3 kilometers from the peak, according to Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation. Marapi is known for sudden eruptions that are difficult to predict because they are not caused by a deep movement of magma, which sets off tremors that register on seismic monitors.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, Mount Marapi

Image Source : AP. Mount Marapi spews volcanic materials during its eruptions as seen from Tanah Datar in Indonesia.

China earthquake

More than 130 people were killed in the powerful 6.2 magnitude earthquake that jolted a mountainous region of northwestern China on December 18. The earthquake's epicentre, Liugou township, was about 8 km from the county seat of Jishishan Bao'an, Dongxiang, Sala autonomous county in Linxia Hui autonomous prefecture in Gansu. Most of the deceased belonged to Gansu and some neighbouring Qinghai province in the Himalayan region. Over 700 hundred people were injured in both provinces. Qinghai province is adjacent to the Tibet Himalayan region, which is prone to frequent earthquakes due to the shifting of continental plates. According to reports, the earthquake damaged 1,55,393 houses in Gansu. This quake was termed as China's deadliest since an earthquake killed 617 people in Yunnan province in 2014.

India Tv - Yearender 2023, China earthquake

Image Source : AP. A vehicle is seen partially covered by a collapsed building in the aftermath of an earthquake in northwestern China's Gansu province.

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