Friday Catastrophe Post: All Eyes on Asia

Note from the author: Following up on my post from Tuesday, I decided to commit to the Friday cat blogging thing. Sort of. My version will be a weekly roundup of the world’s headline-grabbing catastrophes.

Natural disasters pummeled Asia from all sides this past week. There was an earthquake in the Philippines, a cyclone in India and a typhoon in Japan. See the map above for the event locations–cats mark the spot.

Below are brief summaries of the deadly disasters, which killed over 200 people combined. 

10/15 Typhoon Wipha

The most active tropical cyclone basin in the world, the Northwest Pacific basin, spawned deadly typhoon this week called Wipha. The storm swept along the eastern coast of Japan, killing at least 14 people along the way.

The strong system triggered several landslides and flooding in the southern part of the island. Following the event, flights were canceled and trains were stopped. Thousands are still without power in Tokyo and the surrounding towns.

Following Wipha’s fallout, however, eyes were not focused on Tokyo but farther north where the nuclear power plant Fukushima resides. The Fukushima plant has suffered several problems since it was first damaged in a historic earthquake back in 2011. According to the Washington Post, Wipha spared the plant any real damage.

10/15 Deadly Earthquake in the Philippines

On Tuesday, October 15, a dangerous magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck near the city of Catigbian on Bohol Island in the Philippines killing at least 158 people.

The shallow event, which resulted from a rupture in the Sunda continental plate, caused intense shaking that triggered several landslides. More than 30 schools, 130,000 houses and 34 bridges were among the infrastructure causalities. The total damage to the built environment is estimated at $4.2 million, according to a public official.

The region impacted by the event commonly uses construction material that does not fare well under intense shaking, such as unreinforced masonry and wood. Even if better materials are used, a tradition of poor building code compliance could still leave several buildings vulnerable to earthquakes, according to the catastrophe modeling company AIR Worldwide.

The government has declared that the two islands most impacted—Cebal and Bohol—are in a state of calamity, which is similar to what the U.S. calls a “state of emergency”.

There was no tsunami concern following the seismic disaster.

10/4-10/14 Cyclone Phailin Sets Records in India

At it’s peak, Very Severe Cyclone Storm Phailin had maximum sustained winds of 160 mph—the equivalent of a rare category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale used in the United States. Fortunately for India, the storm reduced intensity before smacking into the Odisha region along the eastern coast.

The massive storm system left a crippled landscape in its wake: overturned cars, pulled up trees, broken power lines, and hole-filled roofs and windows. At least 43 people were killed by the event.

Before the storm, approximately 1 million people evacuated from the coast, a measure that officials have cited as saving several lives. Flooding persists and the lingering water is slowing the emergency response. Tens of thousands are waiting relief aid, according to Bloomberg News.

Zahra Hirji is the Raptor Lab’s token Friday cat blogger.

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