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In Syria, the promising olive harvest, destroyed by fires

Wild Fire Alert

Souheil Dib was eagerly awaiting the harvest of olives from his farm in Tartus, in western Syria, but fires have destroyed entire areas of Syria in recent days, leaving the branches of his olive trees charred.

61-year-old Dib inspects each branch of these trees inherited from his father for the slightest sign of life, but they all snap in his hands.

“It had a hundred trees,” he says resigned. “I have never seen a fire like it in my life.”

Favored by high temperatures, some 150 fire outbreaks broke out at dawn on Friday in the coastal provinces of Tartus and Latakia (west) as well as Homs (center), destroying more than 9,000 hectares of agricultural land, forests, orchards and olive groves , according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).

Three people died in Latakia, according to the health ministry, and 25,000 people have been evacuated in the three provinces, according to Ocha.

Authorities announced Sunday that they had controlled the fire. On Monday, the layer of ash that covered the disaster area was still smoky and the surrounding mountains were huge charred surfaces.

With the economic crisis that the country is suffering after more than nine years of war, Souheil Dib had this year on the harvest to guarantee its needs for oil and olives.

“Our hopes were placed on this season to compensate for our successive losses (…) The olives were already ripe and fat and if it had not been for these fires we would be preparing today to harvest them”, laments this man who has spent his life taking care of these trees.

Courtesy of web24.news

https://tinyurl.com/yy9zrq3k

Flood death toll rises to 18 in Cambodia as over 25,000 evacuated

Severe Flood Warning

Flash floods in Cambodia have so far left 18 people dead and forced the evacuation of 25,192 people, Seak Vichet, a spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management (NCDM), said on Friday.

Tropical storm-triggered rains caused floods in 19 of the kingdom’s 25 cities and provinces since the beginning of the month, he said, adding that 212,676 people have also been affected by the floods.

“By Friday morning, the floods have killed 18 people, including eight children,” Vichet told Xinhua, adding that the worst-hit provinces included Pursat, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey, and Kandal as well as southwestern suburb of Phnom Penh.

The floods have also inundated 51,133 houses and 204,650 hectares of rice and other crops, the spokesman said. So far, 12,958 hectares of the affected rice and other crops have been destroyed.

Transportation has also been disrupted, as several major roads in the worst-hit provinces have been closed.

Water Resources and Meteorology Minister Lim Keanhor said on Thursday that further rain, wind and high waves are expected on Oct. 17-19 because the kingdom is suffering from the impact of tropical storm Saudel, which could lead to further flooding.

“People living in plains, along waterways and near mountains, fishermen and sea travelers should be extra-vigilant to avoid any possible dangers,” he said in a press statement.

Floods usually hit Cambodia between August and October. Last year, flash floods claimed 30 lives and storms killed eight people and injured 131 others, according to the NCDM.

Courtesy of xinhuanet.com

https://tinyurl.com/yxl3nvj7

Hailstorm ruins crops in the Riverina, Australia #Hailstorm #Crops #Riverina #Australia

Hail Alert

RIVERINA crops have been battered to the ground following a hail storm.

Wheat, canola and barely, that were showing promise of bumper yields, were not spared in the storm that swept through the region near Junee.

Tony Clough farms at “Windermere,” and “Brendon” and witnessed first-hand a storm that delivered a devastating blow.

He said 40mm of rain fell in quick succession and the hail that came with it bashed crops to the ground.

“It looks like I put 1000 wethers on the paddock and grazed it,” he said.

“There are two paddocks with nothing left,” Mr Clough explained.

He said wheat and canola was affected and to some extent barley was damaged to.

“We got absolutely smashed over a period of 20 minutes,” he said.

While the property “Brendon” was affected by the storm damage crops at “Windermere” largely escaped the storm which was estimated to come through in a strip spanning around two kilometres.

The damage has arrived at a time when crops in the region were looking fantastic due to good falls of rain.

NSW Farmers Wagga and district branch chairman Alan Brown said he had heard of large areas of crops being damaged by hail.

Mr Brown is also a crop insurance consultant. “The severity is high,” he said.

In addition to the Junee area Mr Brown said there were reports of damage coming in from Barellan and Weethalle as well.

“The damage is certainly there,” he said.

“And this is living proof as to why you should always insure for these events … it is sad for people who have been hit hard,” he said.

Mr Brown said the hail had come at the worst time because of the maturity of crops.

He said a storm like that meant there was nothing left.

The severity of losses in this area was expected to come to light in the next week or so as more people inspected crops.

Courtesy of therural.com.au

https://tinyurl.com/y6r5q224

Locust Swarms Ravage Crops In Kenya Again As Country Stares At A Food Crisis #LocustSwarms #Kenya #Africa

Locust Alert

Kenya has been hit by a second wave of locusts after billions of these tiny insects had already swarmed the country’s fields earlier this year. In the Turkana county, swarms of locusts have caused large-scale damage to standing crops, leading farmers to a state of despair over their near future. This locust invasion is being called by experts as the worst in 70 years. With 20% of standing crop damaged, the region is staring at a food crisis for humans as well as livestock.

The newest locust attack in Kenya will also lead to a dairy crisis since there may not be enough crop residue to feed the livestock. The region has already had a series of droughts since 2016 and the latest locust attack has prompted govt to carry massive aerial and ground operations to control extent of the damage. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is aiding the government’s efforts in trying to restrict the damage and ensure that the affected communities get back on their feet.

Courtesy of zee5.com

https://tinyurl.com/y6fsqqpz

Flooding and heavy rainfall leave over 60 dead in Sudan #Flooding #Rain #Sudan #Africa

Severe Flood Warning

Flash floods have ravaged swaths of Sudan for weeks, leaving at least 60 people dead and destroying thousands of homes since late July, authorities and the U.N. humanitarian agency said Sunday.

The flooding also injured two dozen people, and has destroyed or damaged more than 30,000 houses nationwide, the Interior Ministry said.

More than 185,000 people in all but one of Sudan’s 18 provinces have been affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The floods also damaged at least 14 schools, and some 1,600 water sources have been contaminated or are now non-functional, the report said.

Footage circulated online showed floodwaters cutting off roads and sweeping away houses and people’s belongings in different parts of the northeastern African country.

More than 1,200 livestock were lost and several hectares of crops were affected in the middle of the agricultural season, the U.N. added.

The Bout Dam had collapsed in late July after heavy rains and flooding in the southeastern Blue Nile province, releasing 5 million cubic meters of water (170 million cubic feet) and flooding at least 13 neighborhoods in the town of Bout, the U.N. said.

“The collapse of the dam will likely have serious long-term consequences for over 100,000 people, including (internally displaced persons) and refugees, who rely on it as their primary source of water,” he statement said.

Between July and August last year, flooding killed a total of 78 people in 16 of Sudan’s 18 provinces, according to the U.N.

Courtesy of wtop.com

https://tinyurl.com/yygqszh6

Locust swarms threaten Middle East, India, Africa amid COVID-19 outbreak #LocustSwarms #MiddleEast #India #Africa

Samburu men attempt to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Kenya, 2020 (photo credit: NJERI MWANGI/REUTERS)

Samburu men attempt to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Kenya, 2020 (photo credit: NJERI MWANGI/REUTERS)

Nations from east Africa to India are facing large swarms of desert locusts and could face an even worse second wave after an exceptional rainy season created favorable conditions for locusts to breed.

Earlier this year, a wave of locusts swept East Africa and parts of the Arabian Peninsula and has since spread to Iran, Iraq Pakistan and India. While the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that about 720,000 tons of cereal had been saved from the swarms in 10 countries, the threat still isn’t over.

“Our gains have been significant; but the battle is long and is not yet over”, said FAO chief Qu Dongyu on Monday. “More people are at risk of losing their livelihoods and worsening food security in the coming months.”

A map by the FAO shows that swarms are expected to spread into West Africa and throughout the Arabian Peninsula in the coming months, with new locust swarms expected to form in June.

While no swarms are currently expected to impact Israel, Jordan is considered “threatened,” according to a forecast map by the FAO. In February, Jordan’s Ministry of Agriculture announced an “utmost state of emergency” as swarms descended on Saudi Arabia via Yemen. The Ministry also announced that it was closely monitoring regular reports issued by the Locust Forecast Center, situated within the Food and Agriculture Organization. Syria, which also borders Israel, was reportedly preparing for an outbreak as well.

Former Agriculture Minister Tzachi Hanegbi warned at the time that while there was only a low chance that the locusts will come to Israel, the forecast could change and preparations should be made in advance, according to Channel 12 news. An infestation in 2013 caused hundreds of thousands of shekels in damage to Israel’s agriculture industry.

Iran may use its military for a second year to help fight locusts which have invaded the south of the country, an Agricultural Ministry official was quoted as saying on Friday, as the swarms threaten to destroy crops worth more than $7 billion. Up to 1 million hectares of land throughout the country may soon be affected by the swarms.

The infestation originated on the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, with Saudi Arabia being impacted by the swarms as well. In June, Yemen saw an outbreak of desert locusts for the first time in three years. Yemenis took advantage of the infestation as an alternative food source.

A one sq. km. swarm of locusts can eat the same amount of food in one day as 35,000 people, according to the FAO. UN Food & Agriculture Organization locust forecasting expert Keith Cressman explained that a locust swarm that enters a field in the morning can eat the entire field by midday. The insects can travel up to 93 miles a day.

One swarm in Kenya was three times the size of New York City, according to CNN. The number of locusts could grow 400 times by June if not treated. While desert locusts are usually only found in about 30 countries in Africa, the Near East and southwest Asia, they can spread into up to 60 countries over 29 million square kilometres (about 11.1 million square miles) during plagues, according to ReliefWeb.

All of this comes as the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the world’s economy and food availability for many people.

World Food Program executive director David Beasley warned in April that the world is facing a “hunger pandemic” due to the locust swarms, regional conflict and the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons. 821 million people go to bed hungry every night and another 135 million face crisis levels of hunger or worse, according to Beasley. The WFP found that the coronavirus pandemic has added an additional 130 million people who could be “pushed to the brink of starvation” by the end of this year.

Beasley added that, while there are no famines currently occurring, nations needed to prepare in order to prevent “multiple famines of biblical proportions within a short few months.”

In related news in Lebanon, residents “bugged out” over the weekend as swarms of beetles coated the country. “There’s a wave of insects in Lebanon rn [right now] and literally insects are flying everywhere we closed all the windows and they’re all glued to the windows,” wrote one Lebanon-based Twitter user, as others referred to the swarms as “apocalyptic.” They come as a series of misfortunes have racked the country, including wildfires, economic issues, food insecurity and the coronavirus, according to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The bugs swarming Lebanon were identified by the Lebanese agricultural Research Institute as the Common Sun Beetle, Black Dung Beetle and Spinola Bug. The beetles are harmless, the Director of the Agricultural Scientific Research Department, Michel Frenn, told the Lebanese MTV news.

Assurances of the harmlessness of the insects didn’t calm many residents. “The only thing Lebanon was missing were swarms of insects. Just make the world end already,” wrote one social media user, according to Al-Araby.

Courtesy of jpost.com

https://tinyurl.com/ycgzf3vy