DECONSTRUCTING MYTHS ABOUT
There were many myths about natural disasters before science reached its current point, and also the possibility of misinterpreting science, and other elements surrounding a hazard or disaster. While some myths may be interesting and a great topic for dinner conversations, it is better for science to guide our actions when preparing for or experiencing a natural disaster. The following are a range of myths we often hear – particularly during times of heightened disaster activity – that have been comprehensively ‘busted’ by increases in human understanding and the science of natural disasters.
OPENING YOUR WINDOWS DURING A TYPHOON WILL STOP YOUR BUILDING FROM EXPLODING.
It was once widely believed that opening top windows in a home would release pressure during a typhoon, to ensure that a building would be safe from explosion due to high pressure build-up. However, with improvements to science and understanding of physics and engineering, it has been categorically found that this act does not support your home during a typhoon – in fact it adds to the likelihood of your roof being blown off due to wind entering your home and pushing upwards. This, alongside constant battering from the wind outside, would lift the roofs of houses making it look like they had exploded due to pressure from the inside. This myth is further from the truth due to the fact that houses are not airtight in their general state, have no vacuum, and therefore cannot form a pressure differential. In the face of a typhoon, it remains best to secure all windows and doors, turn off appliances and gas lines, and seek shelter a small interior room, closet or hallway on the lowest level of your home if you have not been able to evacuate the area.
DOGS AND OTHER ANIMALS CAN “SENSE” WHEN AN EARTHQUAKE IS GOING TO STRIKE.
For centuries there have been stories and accounts of strange animal reactions in the lead-up to an earthquake, and while these are intriguing, there are no particular scientific links between an animal’s ‘sixth sense’ and an impending earthquake. There is room for thought on animals sending pre-shocks that preceded a larger quake, however this again is merely a concept for an interesting discussion or storytelling session. In reality, what animals sense, if they feel anything at all, remains a mystery. Earthquakes are a sudden phenomenon, and seismologists have no way of knowing exactly when or where the next one will strike. While there have been various research projects undertaken to link animal sensory behaviour with earthquakes, many outcomes are based on varying hypothesis, and also based on retrospection and memory after an earthquake event (due to the above fact that earthquakes are unpredictable). Overall, there is no strong evidence supporting this – and while this might be an interesting theory, it is still best to follow the warnings and guidance of your local disaster management authority and be prepared for an earthquake event at all times.
LOTS OF SMALLER EARTHQUAKES KEEP BIGGER ONES FROM HAPPENING.
It may feel that the onset of small earthquakes forms some sort of ‘tension release’, that ultimately decrease the size and scale of a larger earthquake – however this is untrue. Small quakes do in fact relieve stress on a fault line, but in reality it is way too little stress to decrease the likelihood of a larger quake. Earthquake monitoring shows that around a single 6M earthquake there can be hundreds, even thousands of smaller earthquake events (before and after a large event), however none of these serve to decrease the magnitude of the largest quake. In reality, these smaller quakes only serve to evidence that the fault line is in the midst of activity, and should make us consider our preparedness and readiness for the onset of a larger quake.
HOLDING ONTO A SOLID OBJECT WILL HELP YOU SURVIVE A TSUNAMI.
While there are some amazing stories of survival, the reality is that most people do not survive being swept away by a tsunami. The power, amount and height of the water surge is much too strong for most ‘immoveable’ objects, let alone for anyone unfortunate enough to be hanging onto them. The best way to avoid being caught by a tsunami is to be aware of your location, including tsunami evacuation routes, should a strong coastal earthquake occur. If this happens, follow the guidance of local authorities and evacuate if requested, and should you find yourself with limited time before the tsunami strikes, quickly find shelter on higher ground nearby.
YOU CAN OUTRUN A TORNADO IN A VEHICLE.
While some vehicles may have higher speeds than the average 60-120km/h winds created by tornadoes, you would have to be a very lucky person (or racing car driver) to outrun one in your vehicle. Tornadoes turn and flip vehicles with ease, ensuring that you and any passengers would be in the greatest of danger. Alongside the varying windspeeds, the idea also must factor-in changes in wind direction, as well as the array of obstacles and flying debris that would cross your path. Therefore, if you have not had the chance to evacuate from the path of a tornado, it is best to avoid windows and take shelter in a basement or a window-less middle room on the lowest level of a building.
IF ONE MOUNTAIN IS INCREASINGLY ACTIVE OR ERUPTS, IT WILL TRIGGER ERUPTIONS IN OTHER NEARBY VOLCANOES.
While many volcanoes may be situated along a single fault line that is experiencing increased activity, there is no link between a mountain’s eruption and the state of others nearby. In reality, each volcano has a ‘life of its own’, with its own characteristics, activity, pressure and release points, and therefore remain may erupt at any time in accordance with their own situations. The best way to face potential eruption is to develop your own preparedness plan under guidance of local authorities, who will also provide the most up-to-date information regarding the activity of your closest volcanoes.
A VOLCANO IS ‘DUE’ FOR A LARGE ERUPTION.
Often people feel as if the longer a mountain lies dormant, the likelihood of a larger eruption increases. This is perhaps based on the belief that pressure and magma is continuously growing within a mountain crater to the point of eruption, therefore the longer the wait, the larger the event. In reality, volcanoes have no eruption pattern or cycle – as stated previously, each mountain has a life of its own. Some volcanoes can lay dormant for centuries with only a small eruption as a result, whereas others may be continuously active with varying sizes of eruptions. Each mountain is defined by the variety of activities and elements within its design and its source of magma, completely under the guidance of the unique and unpredictable events happening deep below the earth’s surface.
LARGE AND HEAVY VEHICLES, SUCH AS SUVS AND PICKUPS, ARE SAFE TO DRIVE THROUGH FLOOD WATERS.
While simple physics may have us believe that the heavier the vehicle, the more likely one can drive through floodwaters, in reality this is not true – driving through floodwaters should be avoided at all costs. Strong floodwaters with underlying currents have been known to wash away objects much heavier than a truck, not to mention that vehicles are not secured or anchored to the road. While we may feel that the movement of our vehicle will allow us to pass through the water, it is easy for floodwaters to rise extremely quickly and drown an engine, rendering one stranded in the middle of fast-moving waters with no ability to find safety. If caught in rising floodwaters it remains the best option to seek higher ground, contact authorities, and wait for rescue or for the floodwaters to recede.
Written by : William Shea
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
NOVEMBER | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL OVERVIEW OF NOVEMBER 2018
November 2018 witnesses a two-fold increase in flood occurrences reported in comparison to the same period during 2017. As the region enters the “winter” monsoon period, the southern parts of ASEAN generally experience heavier rainfall, particularly in areas around the equator (shown in Figure 1) where precipitation patterns are generally higher. The heavier precipitation patterns (darker blue areas) are also brought about by typhoons and tropical storms, with these hydro-meteorological phenomena contributing to the increased flooding and collateral hazards (e.g. landslides) reported in the last month. An interesting note is that there was still drought reported in Indonesia – although this is coming to an end as the rainy season approaches.
In terms of geological hazards, 20 earthquakes of higher than magnitude 5.0 were reported during November 2018, compared to 22 during November 2017. Even though there were fewer reported earthquakes in 2018, the earthquakes were widely distributed across the boundary of the Indo-Australian plate, compared to being concentrated in the Ambon Sea in November 2017. Of concern are that 45% of these earthquakes were registered with a depth of less than 20km, which increases the likelihood of damage and disaster in nearby communities. In 2018, the reported earthquakes mostly occurred in areas with higher vulnerability – including in Eastern Indonesia and southern parts of the Philippines. There are currently six active volcanoes in Indonesia (Krakatau, Merapi, Agung, Semeru, Ibu and Dukono), as well as one in the Philippines (Mayon) on which recent volcanic activity has been reported.
OUTLOOK FOR THE DECEMBER 2018 – FEBRUARY 2019 PERIOD
There is an increased probability of above-average rainfall over the western equatorial region (parts of northern Sumatra, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo). During this season, the monsoon rain band is forecasted to gradually shift south towards the Equator with an increased likelihood of shower activities and winds of light and variable direction. Shower activities are expected to persist until January 2019, reducing in the approach to February. Due to rainy conditions, hotspot activities in the southern ASEAN region are likely to remain activities in the southern ASEAN region are likely to remain subdued. Collateral hazards to heavy rains, such as landslides, should be monitored during this period, as heavier precipitation may trigger isolated incidents in hilly or mountainous areas.
Modeling has indicated that tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature anomalies are not expected to warm much further. The probability of weak El Niño conditions occurring will peak during the October-December 2018 season, and will weaken beyond the first quarter of 2019. Due to the weak El Niño conditions, tropical typhoon forecasts remain at up to 3 potential typhoons until January 2019, with a slim chance of any forming during February*.
*) Information courtesy of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Written by : Qing Yuan Pang
AHA Centre’s estimation is based on data and information shared by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and other relevant agencies from ASEAN Member States, international organisations and news agencies. Further information on each recorded-significant disaster, description and detail of data and information are available at: http://adinet.ahacentre.org/reports.
Large-scale disaster responses can be complex in nature, and require the engagement of a wide array of responders, support networks and capacities to ensure the safety of affected communities and pave the way for efficient recovery processes. To prepare for such events, improve procedures, and trial new innovations, every two years ASEAN’s disaster management bodies and practitioners come together to undertake the region’s largest simulation exercise – the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Simulation Exercise (ARDEX-18) – that allows all parties to engage, trial and debrief within an atmosphere designed to mirror responses to a relevant large-scale disaster. ARDEX-18, ASEAN’s 7th such simulation, was implemented in Indonesia from the 5th to the 9th of November.
For the first time, 2018’s ARDEX saw the inclusion of hazardous material (hazmat) elements within the overall disaster response simulation, with the exercise focusing on a response to a three-fold disaster situation – namely an earthquake, tsunami and industrial facility damage leading to hazmat leakage – striking the area of Cilegon on the north-western tip of Java island. Cilegon itself has been highlighted by the Indonesian Disaster Management Authority (BPNB) as a high-risk area for such a risk, and therefore provided the perfect backdrop for the added hazmat element within the overall ARDEX-18 exercise. During his address at the opening of ARDEX-18, the then BNPB’s Chief, H.E. Willem Rampangilei, reminded participants of the overall importance of ARDEX events by stating that “ARDEX is an effort to demonstrate ASEAN’s solidarity in increasing disaster readiness, mitigation, and preparedness in Southeast Asia. ARDEX also serves as a platform to enhance our collective capacity and share ideas to attain the best possible disaster management efforts”.
Preparations for ARDEX-18 had been taking place for almost a year, ensuring the integration of a range of ASEAN disaster management procedures and practices including the ASEAN Joint Disaster Response Plan (AJDRP), the ASEAN Standby Arrangements and Standard Operating Procedure (SASOP), the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT), and the guidelines to establish the Joint Operation and Coordinating Centre of ASEAN (JOCCA).
The results of the 5-day exercise will act as the catalyst for improvements and changes to many of these processes, including updating and refining the SASOP and ARDEX handbooks for future exercises. ARDEX-18 also presented the opportunity to engage bodies from both outside the direct disaster management scope, as well as outside the region, to further understand and increase implementation capacity of ASEAN disaster management process and practice, a particularly important element for efficient responses to large-scale disasters. ARDEX-18 was attended by a range of government officials, humanitarian organisations, search and rescue organisations, defence and military officials, private sector representatives, civil society actors, and members of the academic community to improve such broad multi-sectoral partner engagement in ASEAN disaster management activities.
Although faced by the challenges of ongoing disaster responses in Lombok and Central Sulawesi during the lead-up and implementation of ARDEX-18, Indonesia’s BNPB and AHA Centre managed to ensure a fluent and engaging implementation of the exercise, which encompassed a range of formats and workshops under the context of a transnational disaster response.
ARDEX-18 combined both strategic and tactical components, with the simulation exercise including indoor table top discussions between decision makers, in parallel with outdoor command post exercises (CPX) and joint field training exercises (FTX) for humanitarian responders. The real situation of multiple ongoing disaster responses further highlighted the importance and relevance of simulation exercises such as ARDEX-18 for the overall ASEAN, and international disaster management sector.
As stated by the AHA Centre’s Executive Director Ms. Adelina Kamal, “ARDEX is the only regional exercise platform that tests and validates disaster management tools to improve preparedness and readiness for One ASEAN One Response. It also provides a great environment for all of us, including local governments, local communities and stakeholders, to fight against complacency. ARDEX helps us explore the needs as well as acknowledge the capacity of all ASEAN Member States, that will be useful once we are faced with actual emergencies” she explained. As the event wrapped-up on the fifth and final day, all of the 170 participants from across the world had gained further insight into ASEAN’s mechanisms, alongside providing relevant input and sharing ideas and experience for furthering a united ASEAN.
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre
THE 9th MEETING
OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
OF THE AHA CENTRE
Putrajaya, Malaysia was the venue for the 9th Meeting of the Governing Board of the AHA Centre, held during the first week of October, 2018. Alongside representatives from the ten ASEAN Member States, the meeting was also attended by representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat and the AHA Centre. The meeting was chaired by Dato’ Mohtar Bin Mohd. Abd. Rahman, the Director-General of the National Disaster Management Agency of Malaysia (NADMA), who expressed his condolences and support to the communities affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
During the meeting, the AHA Centre provided an update on its implementation of the AHA Centre Work Plan 2020 – having recently concluded the workplan’s mid-term review. This provided an opportunity to present the Governing Board with a number of key outcomes achieved by the AHA Centre in recent times, alongside progress updates on some new and innovative activities to increase the capacity and quality of disaster management in the ASEAN region. The presentation also highlights the implementation of the AHA Centre Executive Programme Phase II, the transformation plan for the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT), and the AHA Centre’s numerous emergency responses throughout 2018.
A key outcome achieved during these series of meetings was the increase of annual contributions to the AHA Centre Fund, which from 2019 will increase from USD 50,000 to USD 90,000 from each of the 10 Member States. This decision forms a key step to realising the sustainability of the AHA Centre into the future, and ultimately a stronger and more united ASEAN in the face of natural disaster. The 9th Governing Board meeting was held concurrently with a number of other key strategic events, including the 33rd Meeting of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), the 10th Meeting of the Joint Task Force to Promote Synergy with Other Relevant ASEAN Bodies on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR), the 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Disaster Management (AMMDM), and the 7th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response.
Written by : Dipo Summa, William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
MR. KADIR MAIDEEN
Kadir Maideen has been a part of the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) for 24 years, currently tasked with enlisting and training newly enlisted National Service Members into the SCDF system. His engagement with the disaster management field began in the late 1990’s through a range of SCDF roles, in which he found himself delving deeper and deeper into the emerging ASEAN disaster management field. This early engagement, supported by his role and position within ASEAN and the SCDF, saw Mr. Kadir play a crucial role within the group that founded the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT).
Mr. Kadir first joined the SCDF’s elite Disaster Assistance and Rescue team in 1999, responding to overseas disasters such as the earthquake in Taiwan during September of that year. “I think the turning point for me however”, he remembers, “was undertaking the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) course in 2004, shortly after which I was part of the UNDAC response to the Aceh tsunami”. Mr. Kadir continued with missions to Pakistan, and Jogjakarta and Padang in Indonesia. The initiation of the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER), and SCDF’s role as the focal point for the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM), saw Mr. Kadir move deeper into the ASEAN disaster management sector, and in 2007 found himself attached to the ASEAN Secretariat to develop the Standard Operating Procedures for Regional Standby Arrangements and Coordination of Joint Disaster Relief and Emergency Response Operations (SASOP). After returning to his role in the SCDF, Mr. Kadir was then positioned at the forefront of the ASEAN-ERAT development process.
“I was part of the initial team, together with some of my colleagues, assigned to formulate the goals for ERAT training, on how ERAT should be formed, how it could be operationalised, and therefore, and setting the path for what ASEAN-ERAT is today.” Mr. Kadir remembers that the initial planning and design was broad and would follow the model of UNDAC – yet from a regional perspective. In reality, the ERAT system was formed during 2007, and began initial implementation steps through two operational responses – in Myanmar (Cyclone Nargis) – during 2008. However, it was the Mentawai earthquake and tsunami in 2010 that served as the basis to validate the ASEAN-ERAT processes.
Mr. Kadir remembers that at these deployments, it was all very basic – “The mission did not use any comprehensive assessment tools or sophisticated communication means such as what we have now. The whole process was experiential and experimental, full of challenges. But with our strong commitment and excellent team work, we overcame these challenges. Above all, we document the challenges faced and areas for improvements and present them at the next ERAT course.”
Looking to the future of ASEAN-ERAT, through the period of the programme’s transformation plan, Mr. Kadir sees great opportunity for being responsive and innovative. “We must think ahead” he reflects, “as even some of the existing response mechanisms are becoming irrelevant due to the changing times”. “We must really think about the parameters that guide what ERAT will be, how it transforms, and to harness new technology for enhanced efficiency.” Mr. Kadir hopes ASEAN-ERAT will continue to be relevant and responsive, and not become cumbersome in its implementation. “We must ensure that ASEAN-ERAT is a much sought-after resource in times of disaster” he states.
Overall, Mr. Kadir hopes that ASEAN-ERAT continues to expand and open its doors to all members of the region, receiving more-and-more participants from outside the existing disaster management network. “I hope that we reach a stage where anybody could be an ASEAN-ERAT member, contributing to the benefit of ASEAN itself.” As for potential future participants in the ASEAN-ERAT programme, Mr. Kadir highlights the importance of self-preparation – as preparing oneself for the rigours and stress of a response is a key factor to a successful response in itself. He concludes by reminding all current and future ASEAN-ERAT members to “always know that when you are on a mission, you have friends with you, and they, and the AHA Centre have your back – they will always be there to support you”.
Written by : William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
TRAINING OF TRAINERS
The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters in the ASEAN region requires the continuous strengthening of the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT), to quickly respond to disasters and provide support to affected ASEAN Member States when required. The ASEAN-ERAT Transformation Plan 2015-2020 is now being implemented to address the challenge of the team’s continuous development.
With plans to develop the ASEAN-ERAT pool across three levels, the ASEAN-ERAT Transformation Plan has henceforth identified the need to have a selection of specific ASEAN-ERAT trainers. This pool of trainers adds to increase the strength of human resources for delivering the ASEAN-ERAT course, specifically meeting the objective within the Transformation Plan that presents a set of capacity building programmes to develop the three levels of ASEAN-ERAT.
The main objective of ASEAN-ERAT Training of Trainers (ToT) is to develop the skills of selected ASEAN-ERAT to deliver aspects of the ASEAN-ERAT course, in particular their soft-skills related to their development as qualified trainers. The ToT training was conducted across a 5-day, classroom-based course, with 20 participants from 9 ASEAN Member States engaged to improve their capacity as trainers. The training was jointly conducted between the 22nd and 26th of October 2018 in Bangkok, delivered by members of the World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Office, with support from RedR Australia specialists.
Such training of trainers is a key step in the development of this pool of skilled ASEAN-ERAT trainers, and designed to develop capacity and enhance the soft-skills of ASEAN-ERAT members who already possess strong technical skills across ASEAN-ERAT core functions. Participatory approaches and contemporary learning techniques were applied through the training to emphasise the importance of self-management with participants. Teaching practices and presentations developed amongst the participants are followed by group discussions to allow for feedback from both peers and facilitators, further working to enhance the togetherness and support that is cornerstone to the ASEAN-ERAT programme.
Written by : Dandi Rahman | Photo : AHA Centre
ACE PROGRAMME PHOTO JOURNAL – OCTOBER 2018
During October 2018, the AHA Centre Executive Programme (ACE) participants engaged on a learning trip to one of the world’s most innovative and prepared nations when it comes to disaster management, New Zealand. Participants were exposed to a number of teaching and learning methodologies, including classroom-based lectures, interactive discussion with subject matter experts, presentations by participants, and field activities, with a strong focus on evidence-based approaches. The programme was delivered across the cities of Christchurch, Kaikoura, Wellington and Auckland. The visits provided opportunities for participants to explore the key themes of New Zealand’s hazards, leadership, community resilience and disaster recovery efforts.
Incident Command System (ICS) Training provided participants with further insight and knowledge into ICS activities from both a regional and international perspective. The training was facilitated by representatives from the United States Forest Service (USFS), including Mr. Joe Reyes, and the USFS’s ICS Expert Mr David McCandliss.
ACE participants undertook two training sessions related to critical thinking and leadership, with the aim to improve participants’ capacity regarding communication, negotiation and decision-making during normal and emergency response times. The trainings – ‘Meta Leadership’ and ‘Thinking Preference’ – were facilitated by Christopher Webb from the Auckland University of Technology.
The ACE participants visited Emergency Operation Centres across New Zealand, including the EOC in the city of Wellington. Visiting the centres allowed participants to see inside the operations of New Zealand disaster management, talk with key personnel, and draw examples of similarities and differences between the NZ system and our own ASEAN EOC operations. There were also information sessions about the toles of the NZ NDMO and local councils during the 2011 earthquake response.
A number of interesting and innovative workshops were implemented for ACE Programme participants, including Creative Thinking & Innovation, which was delivered by Ms. Ke Lin of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Participants also engaged in Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) training (facilitated by Ms. Jeannette Fernandez from UNDP New York Headquarters) and took part in the ACE Programme Mid-Term Evaluation.
Closing out a busy October, ACE participants got some hands-on experience in emergency logistics, undertaking an intensive Humanitarian Logistic Training course in the region’s key stockpile warehouse in Subang, Malaysia. The training was facilitated by representatives from the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot and World Food Programme (UNHRD/WFP), who co-manage the warehouse alongside the AHA Centre.
Written by : Putri Mumpuni, William Shea | Photo : AHA Centre
SOUTHEAST ASIA’S LARGEST
It is well-known that ASEAN’s position on the renowned ‘Ring of Fire’, alongside other unique geographical elements, ensure it is one of the most vulnerable and heavily-affected natural disaster regions in the world. The following infographic takes a look back through some of ASEAN’s largest and most destructive natural disasters.
Mt. Tambora eruption, West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia.
Severe impact on global temperatures post-eruption, causing a drop by as much as 3°C.
Mt. Krakatoa eruption, located between the islands of Sumatera and Java, Indonesia.
Caused the deaths of over 36,000 people (approximately).
7.9M Earthquake in Moro Gulf, the Philippines.
Displaced around 40,000 families and caused more than 1,400 deaths.
Mt. Pinatubo eruption, the Philippines.
Approximately 200,000 people displaced.
Flooding in Cambodia.
Affected 20 out of 24 provinces with a total of 31,314 families displaced.
9M Earthquake and Tsunami, Indian Ocean.
Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and other countries outside the ASEAN region were affected. Over 260,000 deaths and almost 2 million people displaced.
8.6M Earthquake, Nias island, Indonesia.
Caused 1,300 deaths.
6.4M Earthquake, Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
5,700 dead and tens of thousands injured.
Southern Leyte mudslide, the Philippines.
Caused 1,126 deaths.
Cyclone Nargis, Myanmar.
Over 140,000 deaths and approximately 2.4 million people affected.
7.6M Earthquake in Padang, Indonesia.
Caused 1,115 deaths.
Tropical Storms Haima and Nok Ten, Lao PDR.
The first storm led to flooding in 12 out of 17 provinces, affecting 429,954 people nationwide.
South-east Asian Floods in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam.
Almost 3,000 deaths, with millions of people affected by a range of flood events throughout the northern and southern regions of ASEAN.
Cyclone Bopha/Pablo, the Philippines.
Caused 1,900 deaths.
M6.7 Earthquake in Negros Occidental, the Philippines.
Over 6000 houses damaged.
Typhoon Haiyan/Super Typhoon Yolanda, the Philippines.
Led to approximately 6,300 casualties and over 4 million people displaced. The same typhoon also forcibly displaced about 900,000 people in Viet Nam.
Flash floods, Lao PDR.
Affected over 350,000 people nationwide.
Super Typhoon Mangkhut, the Philippines.
Affected over 2.6 million people nationwide.
7.5M Earthquake and Tsunami in Central Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Over 2,000 dead with over 1,200 still missing.
Information compiled from various sources including: ADINet, CFE-DMHA, PHIVOLCS, UNOCHA.
Written by : Valerie Bayhon, Shintya Kurniawan, William Shea
MONTHLY DISASTER REVIEW AND OUTLOOK
NOVEMBER | DISASTER MONITORING & ANALYSIS
(DMA) UNIT, AHA CENTRE
GENERAL OVERVIEW OF
Compared to 2017, the number of disasters reported for the same period is almost the same for the inter-monsoon season. Hydro-meteorological disasters are still the highest in number, but mostly within the central region of ASEAN. Heavier rain was experienced around the Malaysian Peninsula and Northern Sumatra, which caused floods and resultant landslides. Despite being localised, the amount of damage sustained was significant, but less if compared to the same period last year. On the other hand, the seismic activity remains of significant concern, with a total of 28 earthquakes of magnitude 5 and above reported in ASEAN during October 2018 (compared to 12 in 2017). Most of the recorded earthquakes occurred around Central Sulawesi, Indonesia, which is located along a large fault line. Public and relevant authorities may wish to exercise more caution, and increase mitigation and reduction risk activities related to geophysical disasters
OUTLOOK FOR THE OCTOBER TO DECEMBER 2018 PERIOD
(SEASONAL FORECAST FROM ASEAN SPECIALISED METEOROLOGICAL CENTRE)
The Southwest Monsoon season is expected to transition into the inter-monsoon period around mid-October, and persist for some weeks before giving way to the Northeast Monsoon season in late-November/December.
During the changeover, the prevailing south-easterly or south-westerly winds are expected to gradually weaken to become light and variable in direction, with a gradual strengthening of north-easterly winds to be expected. Characteristically, this is accompanied by a southward shift of the monsoon rain-band, which will bring more rainfall over the southern ASEAN region. The northern ASEAN region will experience decreased rainfall as the season progresses.
Above-normal temperature conditions are expected over many parts of the ASEAN region, especially in the equatorial regions during the coming months. In the northern ASEAN region, occasional hotspots may emerge as drier conditions set-in toward the later part of the season.
In the southern ASEAN region, brief periods of dry weather may contribute to increased hotspot activities in October, which may lead to an occurrence of transboundary haze affecting some parts of the region. However, an increase in shower activities with the onset of the inter-monsoon period will help subdue hotspot activities.
The outlook is assessed for the region in general. For specific updates on the national scale, the relevant National Meteorological and Hydrological Services of ASEAN Member States should be consulted.
Written by : Mizan Bisri, Qing Yuan Pang
Disclaimer: AHA Centre’s estimation is based on data and information provided by National Disaster Management Organisations (NDMOs) and other relevant agencies from ASEAN Member States, international organisations and news agencies. Further information on each recorded-significant disaster, description and detail of data and information are available at: http://adinet.ahacentre.org/reports.
ONE ASEAN ONE RESPONSE FOR
“The tsunami caught everyone in a state of panic. I was near the beach, and everything happened so fast” recalls Misfar, a resident of Palu after a series of disaster events rocked Central Sulawesi on Friday evening the 28th of September, 2018. “The call to prayer began only shortly after the earthquake stopped – and wasn’t yet finished when the tsunami hit the beach”, Misfar explains as he recalls the rapid sequence of multiple disasters that began with a 7.7M earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami and a liquefaction phenomenon. Misfar and his family are grateful to have survived the triple disasters, but remain worried as they lost their houses and feel uncertain about their future.
Misfar is only one of over 68 thousand families whose houses were damaged or ruined by the disasters of the 28th of September. By end of the emergency phase on October 26th, the events caused the deaths of over 2000 people, with over 1,300 still missing, and over 200,000 residents of the Central Sulawesi province displaced. Adding to this, the earthquake also forcibly closed the Mutiara Al-Jufri Airport in Palu, slowing down logistical efforts and the flow of aid to Central Sulawesi’s affected districts (Palu City, Donggala, Sigi, and Parigi Moutong). The earthquake struck within less than two months after a series of seismic events shook the island of Lombok in Eastern Indonesia. The National Disaster Management Authority of Indonesia (BNPB) managed to extend support for both the recovery on Lombok Island, as well as the emergency response in Central Sulawesi.
The Government of Indonesia also opened its doors to welcome offers of international assistance, under specifications identified early during the initial stage of the response. As a result, the international community provided support in a range of forms, including air cargo capacity to transport relief items, water filtration units, family tents, generator sets, medical equipment, and environmental-management support for the prevention of mosquito-borne disease outbreak. At a later stage, the Government of Indonesia also accepted cash donations from governmental and humanitarian partners, channelled through BNPB and the Indonesian Red Cross. Throughout the emergency period, the BNPB worked alongside multiple governmental agencies, who came together on a national response task force. Engaging agencies included the Ministry of Social Affairs, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises, the National Search and Rescue Agency, the National Police Force, and the Ministry of Education. The national rapid response was reinforced by local NGOs, as well as volunteers from across the nation, who helped restore stability in the affected sites. In less than one week, the national taskforce managed to gradually restore electricity, telecommunication access, and access to gasoline supplies. Debris cleaning and the provision of health services were also quickly reinforced through the deployment of field hospitals and military vessels from neighbouring provinces and national resources.
“I am impressed by the Government of Indonesia’s work to quickly restore telecommunication and electricity infrastructure. Once the electricity was on, everything else followed, and coordination became easier”, said Kenneth Mak, one of the members of ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ERAT) from the Singapore Civil Defence Force who was deployed to Palu in the early days following the disasters.
The AHA Centre responded quickly to the disasters by providing full support as required to the BNPB. In addition to providing relief items, including generators, family tents, and mobile storage units, the AHA Centre also mobilised three groups of ASEAN-ERAT members, with a total deployment of 29 personnel from 5 ASEAN Member States. The Centre also supported BNPB with the facilitation, coordination and tracking of incoming international assistance in Jakarta, Balikpapan, and Palu.
During the second week of the emergency response, the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia, H.E. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, paid courtesy visit to BNPB and the AHA Centre. During this visit, the Chief of BNPB, H.E. Willem Rampangilei mentioned, “We are grateful for the tremendous support of the AHA Centre, who has been very helpful during the responses in Lombok and also Palu”.
In Palu, the AHA Centre and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) had the opportunity to implement ASEAN-UN interoperability of mechanism for the first time. On immediate notification, ASEAN-ERAT was assigned by BNPB to set-up and manage the on-site Joint Operations and Coordination Centre for International Assistance (JOCCIA), which is home to facilitate the initial joint needs assessments involving both national and multinational agencies. At a later stage, the ASEAN-ERAT and JOCCIA also hosted members of the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) Team. The widespread impact and scale of the disaster attracted the attention of the United Nations Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres, who visited ground-zero on the 12th of October. Prior to the visit, he addressed ASEAN Leaders in Denpasar, reiterating the full commitment of the United Nations to support government-led rescue and relief efforts. “I also commend the work of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance which has been instrumental in the response, even facilitating and accommodating some of our embedded UN staff.”
The collaboration for the response in Central Sulawesi was comprehensively summarised by ASEAN-ERAT member from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, Mr. Nazim Bin Kudin, when he stated that “everyone came together to help one another, and the best type of leadership is by setting examples, instead of simply telling one another what to do”. He continued by saying that “leading by example not only indicates that you are in-charge, but also the fact that you are involved in getting the work done. So, once you roll-up your sleeves, everyone will follow. That is what I witnessed from the excellent partnership here, especially with the logistics management team.”
Written by: Shintya Kurniawan | Photo : AHA Centre