5 Natural Disasters That Stunned The World In The Last Month
Climate disasters are becoming increasingly common, with at least five unexpected natural events hitting the headlines over the last month.
Since the United Nations confirmed that the window for reverting climate change was closing back in August, an increasing number of natural catastrophes appear to have only underlined the pressing issue.
Here’s a list of just the most recent disasters around the world.
1. Australia’s earthquake
An earthquake in Melbourne on September 22, stunned Australia, a country not known for its quakes.
At a 5.9 magnitude, the quake struck at a depth of 6.5 miles, meaning buildings were damaged around the city. Luckily there were no reports of deaths or serious injuries.
The quake was also felt in southeast Australia, along with its neighbouring states South Australia and New South Wales.
There were two aftershocks as well, one of 4.0 magnitude and another of 3.1.
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison said an earthquake in the country is uncommon and therefore “can be very, very disturbing event”.
The country lies in the centre of one of Earth’s tectonic plates, rather than at the side, meaning it usually faces this kind of disaster only once a decade.
The last quake was in 2016.
Victoria’s State Emergency Service has urged the public to avoid driving and expect aftershocks.
2. Eruption of La Palma’s volcano
A small earthquake on September 19 preceded a large explosion from the volcano, Mount Cumbre Vieja, on Spain’s Canary Island La Palma.
Tides of lava up to six metres in height have been travelling throughout the island and has now consumed 154 hectares (380.5 acres) of the local land.
More than a hundred houses have been destroyed so far, while more than 6,000 people have been evacuated.
The volcano has not erupted in 50 years, although the flow of lava is slower than experts had predicted.
However, if it reaches the Atlantic Ocean further explosions could occur, along with clouds of toxic gas.
Volcanic activity could see the groundwater across the island become undrinkable, while acid rain could soon follow.
A new mouth to the volcano approximately 900 metres in size also opened up on Monday following a 3.8 magnitude earthquake.
No deaths or injuries have been reported yet and a two nautical mile radius in the sea around the area has been closed off to prevent any harm.
A farmer told The Guardian: “The volcano may not kill us directly, but it’s going to make a lot of us go bankrupt.”
It remains unclear how long the eruption will last.
3. Hurricane Ida
Hurricane Ida left a trail of devastation behind after it tore through North America on August 29.
It wiped out the electricity grid in Louisiana and Mississippi, left almost half a million people without water as the water treatment plants were impacted by floods.
At least 26 people died when the hurricane hit the south.
Ida then moved up the country and triggered a record-breaking rainfall of 3.1 inches per hour by September 2 in New York City.
At least 50 more people were killed across New York and New Jersey as floods left people trapped in city basements.
Emergency warnings were issued for the first time across New York as residents were instructed to “get onto higher ground” in the “life-threatening situation”.
In Ida’s aftermath, US President Joe Biden declared that the “threat” of the climate crisis was now here.
He added: “It is not getting any better. The question is, can it get worse. We can stop it from getting worse.”
4. North America’s wildfires
Smoke from wildfires in North America reached Europe on August 22 and was even seen in Spain and Portugal having travelled across the Atlantic Ocean.
The wildfires in California triggered a mass of polluting clouds which travelled nearly 5,000 miles to mainland Europe.
The Dixie fire – the largest fire ever seen in California – was in full flow at the time.
The blaze has now almost been put out more than two months after it began in July, but it has consumed almost a million acres of land in that period.
While the US has a history of wildfires, the series of blazes meant resources were stretched.
The National Interagency Fire Centre revealed on September 14 that 44,647 fires had covered the country.
President Biden said in September: “We can’t ignore the reality that these wildfires are being supercharged by climate change. It isn’t about red or blue states. It’s about fires. Just fires.”
5. Haiti earthquakes and floods
Haiti was hit by a harrowing earthquake on August 14 at a magnitude of 7.2, only to suffer from flash floods and mudslides just two days later.
At least 2,200 people were reported to have died from the earthquake while more remained missing.
Almost 10,000 people were reported injured in the quake and the subsequent tropical storm named Grace.
Relief operations and the US military were called in to help as locals were in desperate need of medical, food and sanitation aid.
Approximately 53,000 homes were completely destroyed while 77,000 others were damaged.
Haiti is a hotspot for natural disasters, having suffered from Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and a 2010 earthquake which saw 200,000 people die.