Nepal earthquake 2015

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7.9 struck Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 at 11.41 am (local time), the worst in 81 years. A state of emergency was declared as over 7,000 fatalities were reported by the following Saturday. The epicentre of the earthquake was 2km below the ground. As a result of the shallow nature of the earthquake, the impacts have been devastating, toppling buildings, opening gaping cracks in roads and sending people rushing into the open as aftershocks rattled their damaged homes.

Where do major earthquakes happen and why? view here

Source - BBC News
Source – BBC News
Seismologists have expected a major earthquake in western Nepal, where pressure has been building from the grinding between tectonic plates — the northern Eurasia plate and the up-thrusting Indian plate.

The quake caused dozens of buildings in Kathmandu to collapse, including the historic Dharahara Tower. The city’s main hospital was overwhelmed by casualties and residents faced a nights on the streets with nowhere to go. Most of the Nepalese fatalities were from the Kathmandu Valley.

The earthquake caused avalanches on Mount Everest. An Indian army mountaineering team has found 18 bodies on Mount Everest.

The avalanche had buried part of the base camp and two tents had been filled with casualties.

Ministry officials estimated that at least 1,000 climbers, including about 400 foreigners, had been at base camp or on Everest when the earthquake struck.

At least 34 deaths occurred in northern India. Buildings swayed in Tibet and Bangladesh.

View a series of before and after slider images here

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world. As a result, it is not best placed to deal with such a major natural disaster GNP per capita of Nepal is $730 (2013), whereas the GNP per capital of the UK is $41,680 (2013).

Political instability does little to boost Nepal’s resilience. “This earthquake is the nightmare scenario. The country has … suffered terrible conflicts, poor governance, and heart-wrenching poverty, all of which created and perpetuated the vulnerability which has been devastatingly exposed.” (Ian Kelman of the UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction).

Why is Nepal vulnerable to earthquakes?

ANIMATION – Plate tectonics. The Himalayas

The government had made some improvements in making some buildings more robust and reinforcing vulnerable ones, but many larger buildings, such as hospitals and older homes, remained extremely vulnerable. In addition, rapid urbanisation in cities like Kathmandu has meant that many homes have been built at a high density.

However, it appears that newer buildings fared better and withstood the quake, whereas the older buildings were worse affected. On the positive side, the earthquake struck on a Saturday, when schools were not in session, which may have reduced the death toll.

VIDEO – What caused the earthquake?

Meanwhile a powerful aftershock was felt on Sunday in Nepal, India and Bangladesh, and more avalanches were reported near Everest.

The 6.7 magnitude tremor, centred 60km (40 miles) east of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, sent people running in panic for open ground in the city.

VIDEO – Drone footage shows extent of damage

VIDEO – More drone footage was filmed in the Sindhupalchok district, 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Kathmandu, near the epicentre of the earthquake

The problems were compounded by erratic internet and mobile phone communications. Many roads were blocked by rubble, there were landslides as well. As a result, getting aid to places that needed it was more difficult.

VIDEO – Nepal declares state of emergency

Offers of aid: 

  • The US sent a disaster response team and released an initial $1m (£0.7m) according to the US aid agency USAid
  • India sent several aircraft, carrying medical supplies and a mobile hospital, as well as a 40-strong disaster response team, including rescuers with dogs 
  • The UK is sent an eight-strong team of humanitarian experts 
  • Pakistan is sent four C-130 aircraft carrying a 30-bed field hospital and army doctors and specialists; urban search-and-rescue teams equipped with radars and sniffer dogs; and food items, including 2,000 meals, 200 tents and 600 blankets
  • Norway promised 30 million krone (£2.5m; $3.9m) in humanitarian assistance
  • Germany, Spain, France, Israel and the European Union also pledged to send aid

How inflatable hospitals are saving lives in Nepal



    More details on the earthquake:

    What are the challenges of disaster relief? Read about them here

    VIDEO – Was Nepal prepared for a major earthquake?

    Article – A disaster that shows quakes don’t kill people, buildings do

    Five facts that explain Nepal’s devastating earthquake here.

    VIDEO – Nepal Sherpas worry about their livelihoods as tourist season is cancelled

    View INTERACTIVE MAP showing areas and population likely to be affected by future earthquakes in Nepal.

    After four days, frustration evident in Nepal over pace of response to the disaster. Read and watch video report here

    How crisis mapping is helping the relief effort.

    After several weeks, attention turned to the longer term impacts, as questions were asked as to whether the economy of Nepal can recover from this major event. Read here

    Images before and after – ArcGIS story maps show how things have changed.

    Additional resources:

    CLICK HERE to view You Tube video playlist of reports from Nepal.

    Visit the BBC News NEPAL EARTHQUAKE – SPECIAL REPORT page for more in depth coverage.

    Sources and more information: BBC News, Al Jazeera, The Guardian, New York Times, World Bank, Reuters, ITV news, Channel 4 News

    More info here:

    Boxing day Tsunami – 10 years on

    On the 26th December 2004, a 9.2 magnitude earthquake occurred off the western coast of Northern Sumatra, Indonesia. The thrust was so violent, it released the energy equivalent of 23,000 Hiroshima-type atomic bombs.

    BBC News map
    Source – BBC News website

    It was the fourth largest earthquake in recent times. 14 countries were affected including Indonesia, the Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Bangladesh. Among the worst-hit regions was Aceh, an Indonesian province on the northern tip of Sumatra. 30 metre high waves travelled inland, killing approximately 130,000 people, whilst more than half a million were displaced.

    10 years on, this BBC News video takes a closer look at the scale of the disaster

    According to Oxfam, five million people were affected of which 1.7m were made homeless, half a million were injured and more than 230,000 were killed.


    Source of map above and more details here – Views of the World


    BBC News report from 26th December 2004. Including explanation about how it happened.

    The BBC News website created a Special report page to highlight the extent of the devastation

    Documentary – The wave that shook the world


    Ten years on

    Then and Now – You can view a collection of interactive images here which allow you to see how things have changed since the tsunami by toggling on the images for before and after shots.

    VIDEO – This collection of images shows the changes 10 years on.

    This selection of images also shows the extent of the impact and how people and the environment have recovered since

    Sky News documentary – 10 years after the wave:

    The World Health Organization estimates that up to 20 percent of a population may suffer stress-related disorders in the aftermath of a calamity like the Indian Ocean tsunami.


    Impact on tourism

    Many were concerned that the tsunami would have a long term impact on the tourism industry in places like Indonesia and Thailand. However, Phuket recovered within 6 months according to those involved in tourism in the area. Read more here 


    Fertility boom

    In communities where the tsunami cost lives, research suggests there has been a fertility boom. Mothers who lost children during the disaster were much more likely to have more children in the 5 years after the event, than those who did not suffer a death. Read more about the research here.


    Learning the lessons

    The tsunami prompted a rethink of Indonesia’s disaster management procedures. In the aftermath of the disaster, laws were passed making it mandatory for new homes, buildings and schools to include disaster mitigation plans.


    More details about tsunami preparations and how science is still learning from the 2004 event

    In Banda Aceh, signs now point out tsunami evacuation routes and in some places warning sirens have been installed.


    The Aceh Tsunami Museum — housed in a building shaped like the prow of a ship — not only commemorates the disaster, but also serves as an emergency shelter should a tsunami ever hit the city again.

    Also, each year teachers take part in disaster training conducted by the government and the Indonesian Red Cross. Many schools also holds annual disaster drills to teach students what to do in the event of another major event.

    In Phuket, communities have taken responsibility for preparations in the event of another tsunami. VIDEO REPORT here:

    In 2010, Sri Lanka carried out its first major earthquake and tsunami drill. 14,000 people across 14 coastal areas were evacuated. Read more here

    More have been carried out since on a regular basis

    Meanwhile, 24 countries participated in a major Indian Ocean-wide mock tsunami drill on September 9th and 10th 2014 that was aimed at testing the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (IOTWS). More details here 


    Is the world better prepared for disaster?

    Read this article from CBS News

    Read this article from CNN


    Find out more about Tsunamis on the BBC Earth page. Full of useful information here


    Sources – BBC News; Sky News; Daily Telegraph; Oxfam; New York Daily News; Phuket Gazette; The Jakarta Globe; IRIN News; News First Sri Lanka; ABC News (Australia); CBS News; The Independent; Views of the world; Al Jazeera English

    Flooding on the Somerset levels 2014

    Sunday 25 January 2014

    A “major incident” has been declared for all areas affected by flooding in Somersetfollowing warnings of further heavy rain.

    BBC VIDEO REPORT – Villagers still cut off
    Residents in the village of Muchelney have been cut off for three weeks and have been reliant on volunteers in boats bringing them supplies. 

    17,000 acres of land are still underwater a month after the flooding began. The council is providing support to affected residents, including temporary toilets, sandbag collection points in local villages and deliveries to the most stranded properties.
    It has provided around 3,000 sandbags in the last few weeks. The council is also on standby to provide alternative temporary accommodation and set up rest centres if the situation gets worse.

    Monday 27 January 2014

    VIDEO – Somersetfloods: Ten tonnes of flood water pumped per second

    VIDEO – ‘River needs dredging properly’ say local people.

    Many people are still stranded. Many are now complaining that if The Environment Agency have dredged the rivers, the extent of the flooding would have been reduced. Meanwhile, The Environment Agency is continuing to pump water from the Somerset Levels and has extra pumps working on Northmoor and Saltmoor.

    Management strategies

    Somersethas set up a “tactical command group” to deal with the flooding emergency declared in the area. 
    The group will include representative from the emergency services, local authorities, health organisations and utilities and will use their expertise and knowledge to tackle the issues that have arisen.
    Devon and Cornwall Fire Service crews have been deployed in four wheel drive vehicles and rescue boats to provide safety advice to residents and map access routes across the affected areas.

    Villagers who have been cut off from the rest of the country by floods for more than three weeks have received help from a floating bridge.
    The pontoon has been set up along a country road linking the village of Muchelney to the rest of Somerset. The bridge allows villagers to walk part of the journey to dry land, however, the rest has to be completed by boat. Muchelney has been inaccessible by car and foot since 2 January 2014. Some parts of the surrounding area are 5 feet underwater.
    What does it mean when a ‘major incident’ is declared?

    A major incident is declared where there is a situation which could not be dealt with easily by the local council and could threaten lives, disrupt the community or damage property. It means the local authority can organise emergency evacuations, set up rest centres and mobilise voluntary organisations.
    The biggest pumping operation ever is under way on the Somerset Levels, but much of the water is going into already swollen rivers. Seven tonnes of water are being pumped away from the villageof Fordgate in Somerset every second, according to an Environment Agency spokesman.
    More homes on the Somerset Levels are facing flooding as water levels continue to rise, ahead of further predicted heavy rainfall this weekend. 
    VIDEO REPORT – Major incident declared
    The bad weather and flooding has left many farms covered by floodwater. In Somerseta lot of productive farmland has been lost, with more than 43 square miles flooded 
    Useful background information on data behind the flooding can be viewed here:

    Flooding on the Somerset levels is nothing new though. Watch this video from 2012:

    Sources: BBC News; Sky News; The Guardian; ITV News; The Environment Agency; The Telegraph; Aztec Media Skycam; Daily Mail

    Winter floods in UK 2013-14

    24 December 2013

    Strong winds and heavy rain has caused much disruption for home-owners and travellers trying to get home for the Christmas break. Rivers, already swollen have been unable to cope in many areas, flooding roads, railway lines, homes and businesses.

    VIDEO explanation: Why so stormy?
    Source – BBC Weather (24 Dec 2013)
    For guidance on how to read synoptic charts like this one above – click here

    The Met Office at Boscombe Down, Salisbury Plain, recorded 66.7 mm of rain in the 24 hours from 9 am on the 23 December to 9 am on the 24 December. This is new all time daily record (provisional) in any month for the station – since records began in January 1931.

    A Low pressure record breaker:
    In Stornoway, in NW Scotland. a pressure reading of 936.4mb was recorded at 12:30 pm on 24th December 2013. This is the lowest recorded anywhere in the UK since December 1886!

    Depression – a low pressure weather system
    Explainer from the Met Office here:

    An additional simplified explanation of the differences between high and low pressure can be found here

    Strong winds, floods and fallen trees have been causing chaos for travellers trying to get away for Christmas.
    Many major roads were flooded or blocked by fallen trees, with Kent, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussexand Cornwallamong the affected counties.
    In Dorset, 30 people trapped in cars by flood water were rescued by fire crews.
    In Devon and Cornwall, several properties were flooded, while some homes are without power
    In Newton Abbot, Devon, a man died after jumping into the River Lemon to rescue his dog. 
    More than 6,000 homes without power in East Anglia, hundreds with no power in Somerset, and 50,000 homes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight were cut off.
    A man was taken to  hospital after being trapped under a fallen tree in St Martin, in Jersey.
    The London Fire Brigade says it received five times the usual number of emergency 999 calls – 853 in total – on Monday night.
    The severe weather caused disruption at some airports. At Gatwick, a power cut at the north terminal left several thousand passengers stranded, with delays and 26 flights cancelled.
    Network Rail reported that the damage caused by the severe weather was “even more extensive” than that inflicted by St Jude’s storm in October.
    As of Tuesday evening, five people had died as a result of poor conditions on the roads or after entering fast-flowing rivers. 
    The Environment Agency had almost 370 flood warnings and alerts in force on 24 December.

    Source – Environment Agency

    Fire crews rescued one adult and three children from a car stuck in floodwater on the A303 in Podimore, near Yeovil, Somerset. Two fire appliances and the rescue tender as well as a specialist rescue team led them to safety using an inflatable powered boat and dry suits. 
    Train passengers in Taunton, Somerset, were stranded all night on board their train after the track they were travelling on flooded.
    Closer to home: Police in Wiltshire said nine roads had been closed due to flooding, including the A365 near Shurnhold, Melksham, where a number of vehicles were stuck.
    Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said about 12 properties, including shops in the Bath Road area of Bradford-on-Avon, had been affected by flooding and they had closed the town centre bridge – the main route through the town.

    Bradford on Avon – 24 December 2013

    Chippenham – via Twitter
    (unable to find original photo for acknowledgement)

    View of the River Avon – Chippenham via @southers81 on Twitter

    View across fields near Monkton Park – Chippenham via @adamczuk on Twitter

    25 December 2013

    About 50,000 homes in southern and eastern England were without power following the huge storms which hit the UKon Monday and Tuesday.

    The River Mole in Surrey burst its banks in several areas and an Environment Agency severe flood warning – which means a danger to life – was issued for Leatherhead.

    Sainsburys in Tonbridge – Kent

    The scene in Guildford as the River Wey flooded

    Flooding on the River Medway in Kent

    26 December 2013

    The Environment Agency and the Met Office have warned of further significant rainfall and flooding in parts of southern Englandwith heavy rain and high winds forecast across the UK on Thursday evening and into Friday morning.
    Source – Met Office
    Many rivers are still swollen after the storms and ground saturated which led to power cuts and travel delays causing concern that any additional rain will lead to more significant flooding. 
    About 1,000 homes in south-east and south-west England have been flooded.

    Some 13,000 properties still have no power and engineers say some may not be reconnected until the end of the week.
    The Met Office said widespread gales were likely to develop late during Thursday night or in the early hours of Friday morning bringing gusts of more than 50 mph inland and of 70 mph to 80 mph to some coastal areas and high ground.
    Pressure chart for 26 December 2013
    Source – BBC Weather

    Pressure chart for 27 December 2013
    Source – BBC Weather

    On Thursday morning, the Environment Agency had 83 flood warnings in place,  these were in the south-east (37), south-west (16), and the Midlands(18).

    Source – The Environment Agency (26 December 2013)

    26 January 2014

    Although the floods receded in many areas of the south-west, for some the impacts continued. Read more about the floods on the Somerset levels which continued into 2014 here

    BBC News; BBC Weather; Daily Mail; Wiltshire Times; Twitter; The Environment Agency; Channel 4 News; AJEnglish; ITV News; Sky News; The Guardian; The Met Office; theweatheroutlook