Nature caused Hurricane Katrina
& other disasters
(Top Posts - Science - 100905)

- - -

The world is a risky place, and natural
disasters are widespread now, as they
have been throughout human history.

Few give much thought to the worst
natural disaster to ever strike humankind,
that being the Mt. Toba super-eruption
that wiped out all but an estimated ten
to fifteen thousand humans over 70
thousand years ago.

Be it plagues, volcanic eruptions, earth-
quakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts,
super-volcanic eruptions, viral invasions,
floods, tsunamis, landslides, or other
naturalistic calamities (like a devastating
impact from an asteroid or comet), humans
are in a precarious position on a planet
constantly at risk.

Being that so many worship a deity or
deities, and believe their deity or deities
is/are actively involved in what happens
on earth, it's tempting for some to assert
that their deities or deities is/are involved
in such matters, while others (a majority?)
have their deity or deities perceived as
not involved in such events, except to
save whomever gets saved.

When the tsunami hit last year, for ex-
ample, more than a few religious leaders
and followers asserted a deity was in-
volved, the exact deity varying on whe-
ther the perception was by a Muslim,
Christian, or Hindu. Buddhists, however,
by and large saw the event as simply a
consequence of the ebb and flow of all
things. Disbelievers and doubters, the
overwhelming majority, simply viewed
the event as a naturalistic consequence
of life in a dangerous and risky environ-

Practically everyone agreed that too
little was done to both detect the tsunami
and warn those at risk, and welcome the
efforts to correct that via sensors which
can easily provide advance warning of
a tsunami.

As for warnings of earthquakes and vol-
canic eruptions, of asteroids and comets,
science is steadily seeking to do its best
to predict those events, to reduce the loss
of life. However, even when warnings are
adequate, as with hurricane Katrina, many
find it difficult to heed the warnings (for
financial or medical reasons, or simply
from being a child or infant subject to
decisions outside of their control), or
simply choose to ignore the warnings.

- - -
October 10, 2005. 1:01am (AEST)

Pakistan declares three days of mourning
- - -


Pakistan has declared three days of
national mourning for the victims of
Saturday's devastating earthquake
that killed more than 19,000 people
and wiped out entire villages.


It is expected the number of casualties
from the quake, which measured 7.6 on
the Richter scale and also caused fatal-
ities in India and Afghanistan, will rise
significantly in the coming days.

"So far we have 19,136 people lost their
lives, 42,397 were injured. Casualties are
increasing by the hour," Mr Sherpao said.

Mr Sherpao says the worst affected
region was Pakistan-controlled Kashmir,
where the confirmed figures so far were
17,388 dead and 40,421 injured.

Around 11,000 of the dead were in the
region's capital Muzaffarabad alone, he

In North-West Frontier Province 1,760
people were killed and 1,797 injured,
while in the central province of Punjab
11 were dead and 83 injured.

In the northern areas bordering China
and Kashmir a further two people were
killed and two injured.

Indian state Government chief secretary
Vijay Bakaya said 583 people have died
in Jammu and Kashmir.

"The toll is likely to go up," he said.

There were also reports of a few casual-
ties in towns and villages in southern

Presidential appeal

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has
made an urgent appeal for money and
helicopters to get aid to the worst affected
zones - the rugged terrain of North West-
Frontier Province and the towering Hima-
layan mountains of Kashmir.


General Musharraf has also appealed to
Pakistanis living overseas.

"God has given you a lot and today your
nation requires your support," he said.

"I hope that you realise this hour of crisis
to our nation and you'll come forward with
a large heart in trying to alleviate the prob-
lems of the people, suffering of the people
and share in the load of the Government."


- - - end excerpts - - -

- - -
October 9, 2005
- - -


... rescue teams have yet to reach many
areas, including Balakot, a town in northern
Pakistan that was reduced to rubble.

Survivors here said that atleast 5,000 people
were killed in the town, but that number could
not be confirmed.

Hundreds more were missing in the debris
in Balakot, including hundreds of children
buried in the wreckage of 10 schools, the
survivors said. With rescuers thwarted by
landslides and heavy rainfall, parents clawed
through the rubble for their children. A woman
who gave her name only as Saira sat next to
her child's body. "I have lost everything," she
said. "This is God's wrath."


- - - end excerpt - - -

- - -
October 9, 2005

Mudslide triggered by Hurricane Stan
buries up to 1,400 Guatemalans
- - -


A Guatemalan village buried under
tons of dirt and debris may be de-
clared a Mayan mass grave as res-
cuers give up digging for the remains
of up to 1,400 people killed in a mud-
slide triggered by Hurricane Stan.

After days of heavy rain, mud, rocks
and trees crashed down a volcano's
slopes and into the Maya Indian village
of Panabaj as people slept early on
Wednesday, covering it in a quagmire
up to 40 feet (12 meters) deep in


Large swathes of land in Central
America and Mexico were flooded
and dozens of mountain villages
were hit by mudslides after days of

Relief came to some 300 inhabitants
of Isla San Sebastian, a small island
off the coast of southeastern El Sal-
vador whose houses had been
smashed by Stan's winds and rains,
when boats came ashore loaded
with United Nations World Food
Program aid.

"It's tough dealing with things you
don't expect," 64-year old Dionisio
Chavarria said, waiting by an island
shack with his nine children. "With
the rain coming down and the sea
churning at your side ... you put
yourself in God's hands."

- - - end excerpts - - -

- - -
Last Updated: Saturday, 8 October 2005,
19:36 GMT 20:36 UK

'Thousands dead' in S Asia quake
- - -


Pakistani officials say thousands of
people may have died in Saturday's
powerful quake that also hit northern
India and Afghanistan.

The 7.6-magnitude quake with the
epicentre 80km (50 miles) north-east
of Islamabad wiped out several vil-

More than 3,000 people are feared
dead in the worst affected North-West
Frontier Province (NWFP) and Kash-

In one incident, 400 children were
said to have died when two schools
collapsed in NWFP's Mansehra dis-

Indian officials reported nearly 300
deaths in Indian-administered Kash-

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf
has described the quake as a "test of
the nation".


- - - end excerpts - - -

- - -
Saturday, October 8, 2005;
Posted: 3:10 p.m. EDT (19:10 GMT)

Guatemalan village of 800 buried
in river of mud

Worst single disaster in deadly
flooding in Central America and
- - -


A thundering river of mud, rock
and uprooted trees poured down
a volcano towering over the Mayan
town of Panabaj in western Guate-
mala, engulfing everything in its

The landslide was believed to be
the worst single disaster in several
days of flooding that have killed
hundreds in Central America and
southern Mexico.


- - - end excerpt - - -

- - -
Posted on Sat, Oct. 08, 2005

The wrath of God?

In the aftermath of the hurricanes,
some people say such disasters
are acts of retribution by God.

Dallas Morning News
- - -



There's an audience in America for
the view that God uses natural disas-
ters to punish evil -- notwithstanding
that most religious leaders and scho-
lars reject the notions ...

"There were children who died. Inno-
cent babies who died. Aged nursing
home patients who died. To say that
God is judging New Orleans and that
these people died and some felons
escaped, I personally have a problem
with it."


The belief that divine wrath was at work
in New Orleans isn't limited to conserv-
ative Christians.


- - - end excerpts - - -

- - -
Sept. 12, 2005 issue

The Lost City

What Went Wrong: Devastating a
swath of the South, Katrina plunged
New Orleans into agony. The story
of a storm-and a disastrously slow
- - -



No one seemed to have any idea how
many people died, but it was clearly the
worst natural disaster since a hurricane
wiped out Galveston, Texas, in 1900,
killing 6,000 to 12,000 people. No major
American city had been evacuated since
Richmond and Atlanta in the Civil War.


Day after day of images showed ex-
hausted families and their crying chil-
dren stepping around corpses while
they begged: Where is the water?
Where are the buses? They seemed
helpless, powerless, at the mercy of
forces far beyond their control.


- - - end excerpts - - -

- - -
1:40 a.m. ET Sept. 4, 2005

Terror on the Tigris
- - -


As the procession crowded across
the bridge toward Baghdad's Kadhi-
miya shrine, Hussein Abbas heard
a murmur rising around him. Within
seconds the whispers turned to panic.
Someone said there was a suicide
bomber. People began running.

"I fell, and people fell over me, and
others stepped over us," says Abbas,
33, a carpenter from Sadr City. He
tried to get up and get away, but he
was trapped. The bridge's metal rail-
ings buckled, and pilgrims began top-
pling into the Tigris.

Abbas saw a small boy knocked to
the pavement nearby. "He started cry-
ing, 'Uncle, please get off me, I'm
choking!' I couldn't move [to help
him]," recalls Abbas from a hospital
bed. "I watched the little kid die."

Nearly 1,000 Iraqi civilians were killed
last Wednesday morning in what was
by far the country's deadliest incident
since the 2003 invasion. Most of the
victims were women and children who
fell in the stampede. The suicide bom-
ber was imaginary-this time.


Prominent Shiites, abandoning their
past insistence on a united Iraq, have
begun demanding an enclave to call
their own. ... Foreign commentators
have already named the place "Shia-


To get an idea of what life in Shiastan
might be like, it's useful to think about
Kurdistan's relationship to Iraq's cen-
tral government today. The Kurds have
no intention of giving up the hard-won
self-rule -they've enjoyed since 1991,
when the first President Bush imposed
a no-fly zone against Saddam's Air

"There's nothing 'Iraqi' about Kurdistan,"
... "The Iraqi flag doesn't fly there. It
has its own military. The Iraqi military is
banned from going there."

Now imagine a Kurdistan run by ayatol-

[and relate that to what life in the Shia
south is becoming]

Iranian-style morality enforcers have
been gaining strength in the south ever
since the U.S. invasion. In formerly wide-
open Basra, functioning liquor stores
have become a rarity. The owners got
too many death threats.

Many Iraqi Christians are fleeing the
area, moving to Baghdad and elsewhere.


- - - end excerpts - - -