- UN: Pakistan flood misery exceeds tsunami, Haiti
The death toll in each of those three disasters was much higher than the 1,500 people killed so far in the floods that first hit Pakistan two weeks ago. But the U.N. estimates that 13.8 million people have been affected — over 2 million more than the other disasters combined.
The comparison helps frame the scale of the crisis, which the prime minister said Monday was the worst in Pakistan's history. It has overwhelmed the government, generating widespread anger from flood victims who have complained that aid is not reaching them quickly enough or at all.
"The number of people affected by the floods is greater than the other three disasters combined," Maurizio Giuliano, spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told The Associated Press.
A person is considered affected by the floods if he or she will need some form of assistance to recover, either short-term humanitarian aid or longer-term reconstruction help, said Giuliano.
The total number of people affected in the three other disasters was about 11 million — 5 million in the tsunami and 3 million in each of the earthquakes — said Giuliano.
Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said Monday that the floods were a bigger crisis than the 2005 Kashmir earthquake that killed nearly 80,000 people and the army's operation against the Taliban in the Swat Valley last spring that drove more than 2 million people from their homes.
"The magnitude of the tragedy is so immense that it is hard to assess," said Gilani during a visit to the central Pakistani city of Multan.
Many of the people affected by the floods, which were caused by extremely heavy monsoon rains, were in Pakistan's northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Rescue workers have been unable to reach up to 600,000 people marooned in the province's Swat Valley, where many residents were still trying to recover from last year's fight with the Taliban, said Giuliano. Bad weather has prevented helicopters from flying to the area, which is inaccessible by ground, he said.
"All these people are in very serious need of assistance, and we are highly concerned about their situation," said Giuliano.
Hundreds of thousands of people have also had to flee rising floodwaters in recent days in the central and southern provinces of Punjab and Sindh as heavy rains have continued to pound parts of the country.
One affected resident, Manzoor Ahmed, said Monday that although he managed to escape floods that submerged villages and destroyed homes in Sindh, the total lack of government help meant dying may have been a better alternative.
"It would have been better if we had died in the floods as our current miserable life is much more painful," said Ahmed, who fled with his family from the town of Shikarpur and spent the night shivering in the rain that has continued to lash the country.
"It is very painful to see our people living without food and shelter," he said.
Thousands of people in the neighboring districts of Shikarpur and Sukkur camped out on roads, bridges and railway tracks — any dry ground they could find — often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs and perhaps a plastic sheet to keep off the rain.
"We were able to escape the floodwaters, but hunger may kill us," said Hora Mai, 40, sitting on a rain-soaked road in Sukkur along with hundreds of other people.
A senior government official in Sukkur, Inamullah Dhareejo, said authorities were working to set up relief camps in the district and deliver food to flood victims.
But an Associated Press reporter who traveled widely through the worst-hit areas in Sindh over the past three days saw no sign of relief camps or government assistance.
The floods hit the country at a time when the government is already struggling with a faltering economy and a brutal war against Taliban militants that has killed thousands of people.
The U.S. and other international partners have donated tens of millions of dollars and provided relief supplies and assistance.
A faltering relief effort could open the door to hard-line Islamist groups, which have already been delivering aid in the northwest.
Associated Press Writer Ashraf Khan contributed to this report from Sukkur.
- Meanwhile in America, BP pretends all is fine and dandy, when nothing could be further from the truth: the man-made disaster is going on, away from the public's eye, as dangerous as ever:
- Radiation, plague, and fires: foreign embassies urgently evacuate staff from Russia
- Heat Wave, Smog Double Moscow's Daily Death Rate
Moscow health department chief Andrei Seltsovsky said Monday the daily death rate in the city has surged from an average of 360 to 380 deaths under what he called "normal conditions." Some city morgues are overflowing with bodies.
The concentration of carbon monoxide and other pollutants in Moscow's air exceeded the safe limit by almost seven times on Saturday and Sunday. The figure moderated Monday to a range of two to three times acceptable levels.
Russia's state weather service described the heat wave affecting Moscow and other parts of the country as possibly the worst in a millennium. Daily high temperatures have reached up to 38 degrees Celsius compared to the usual summer average of 24 degrees.
Health experts said the combined effect of smog and heat poses a danger to people with heart and lung problems and risks aggravating other health conditions.
Muscovites were leaving the city in record numbers. Aviation officials said more than 104,000 passengers left Moscow's three major airports on Sunday. Travel agents said package tours for vacation spots popular with Russians, such as Egypt and Turkey, were sold out.
Forest and peat bog fires near Moscow have covered the city with a yellowish smoke that residents find almost impossible to escape. Thousands of Russian firefighters have been fighting hundreds of wildfires nationwide. The blazes have killed at least 52 people.
Forecasters said they do not expect temperatures to moderate until next week.
Last item thanks to CH.
And Christopher sent a link to this great MAP OF THE RUSSIAN FIRES ( see Comments section)
- ... And don't forget the effect on FOOD staples: expect widespread HUNGER as a result:
Crop outlook worsens in drought-hit Black Sea region
"If someone is waiting for December 31, he is waiting in vain," Putin told a government meeting. "A decision may be taken only after the harvesting campaign results are clear."
Firefighters are still battling wildfires covering 1,740 square km (672 sq miles) in what the state weather forecaster said was Russia's worst heat wave for a millennium.
The drought and the wildfires have sent wheat prices soaring, and the grain export ban is likely to squeeze supplies and lead to a scramble for grains from other producers like Australia.
Wheat prices fell on Monday before retracing to remain within striking distance of last week's two-year highs.
Analysts SovEcon estimated on Monday that Russia's wheat crop could fall by nearly a third to 43.5 million tonnes. This is well below the consensus in a Reuters snap poll on August 5 of 46.5 million tonnes and is likely to take a big chunk out of the global wheat crop in the new 2010/11 season.
Wheat exports in 2010/11 may be around 3 million tonnes, SovEcon forecast, plunging from the 18 million tonnes the International Grains Council estimate were shipped in 2009/10.
In neighbouring Ukraine, the world's sixth-largest wheat exporter in the 2009/10 season, bad weather has also forced analysts and officials to cut crop and export forecasts.
A senior Ukrainian Farm Ministry official said this year's wheat harvest could fall to about 17 million tonnes, below the consensus in a Reuters poll last week of 18.1 million and down from 20.9 million in 2009.
Grain exports from Ukraine are also facing delays after the introduction of a new system of customs controls last week.
The ban in Russia has already forced some exporters to cancel major contracts of Black Sea wheat to Bangladesh.
"We see more deals being cancelled as nothing can be done about it," said one Singapore-based trading manager. "People have no choice but to go for Australian wheat as the U.S. is still more expensive due to higher freight costs."
The drought could also force Russia to cut beet sugar output to 3.2-3.5 million tonnes from an earlier expected record 4 million, Andrei Bodin, chairman of lobby group the Russian Sugar Producers' Union, told Reuters Insider in an interview.
Russia is a net importer of sugar, although it has bought less in recent years, as increased domestic production and variable import tariffs pushed it down to the world's number three sugar buyer from the top spot.
(Writing by Nigel Hunt; editing by Sue Thoma. Reuters)
- Get Rich Investing in Israel!
Israel has done a terrific job in navigating its economy through the Great Recession -- and is poised to capitalize big-time on the looming wipeout of the Euro. As the European economies topple like dominoes, the most stable and prosperous nations in the Middle East offer incredible profit opportunities.
Companies like Prolor and Radware, that nearly TRIPLE your money in a matter of months, are not all that unusual in Israel.
Prior to the 2008-2009 credit crunch, Israel's GDP had been growing an average of 5% for the past few years. And while the U.S. economy contracted -2.4% in 2009 and the EU contracted -4.0%, Israel's economy actually grew slightly.
First, unlike its U.S. and European counterparts, Israeli banks have always maintained strict lending standards, thereby sidestepping the global subprime mortgage crisis.
Second, personal consumption has stayed remarkably steady, thanks to a high savings rate. Israelis have the cash to invest in the still-expanding real estate market -- and their economy has not been devastated by the collapse of real estate prices, as is the case in most countries.
Third, the Israeli shekel also has been one of the strongest currencies in the world over recent years -- and will likely remain so as the Euro continues to depreciate.
What's more, Israel has finally turned its back on its East European socialist origins and embraced the free market with gusto. In fact, with more than 100 listed companies, Israel has overtaken Canada as the foreign country with the most stocks on the Nasdaq.
Finally, Israel is a hotbed for the global technology sector with more Ph.D.s per capita than almost any other nation. Intel has invested over $5 billion in the country. And hot on Intel's heels are Oracle, Microsoft, IBM, Motorola and Cisco. What attracts these tech giants from California's Silicon Valley to this tiny nation of 6 million? Israel's entrepreneurial spirit and cutting-edge inventiveness.
I found THIS: