IT HAS been another week of extreme weather around the globe. In Indonesia, heavy rain led to flooding and landslides in the western part of the country (pictured above). At least 29 people have died, including 22 in a single landslide in Bengkulu on the island of Sumatra. The clearance of forests to plant palm oil has increased the risk of landslides.
Two people also died in flooding in the capital Jakarta. This coastal megalopolis of 10 million people has long battled flooding, as the city is sinking fast due to the extraction of the groundwater beneath it. Most of the city could be underwater by 2050. This week, the government announced plans to move the capital elsewhere, though several previous plans to do this have come to nothing.
Meanwhile, in Mozambique at least 38 people have died, 35,000 homes have been destroyed and 160,000 remain at risk as flooding triggered by cyclone Kenneth continues to worsen. Category 4 Kenneth was one of the strongest tropical cyclones to strike Africa in terms of wind speed when it reached land. It flattened some villages on the coast and then stalled over the interior, dumping immense amounts of rain.
Kenneth struck just six weeks after cyclone Idai wreaked even more havoc, killing at least 1000 people. It is the first time Mozambique has ever been struck by two strong storms in one year.
Storms in the region are growing stronger due to climate change, says climate scientist Jennifer Fitchett at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa. “We’re always very cautious not to pin one particular storm to climate change, but in terms of the pattern of Idai, and now Kenneth, there’s this regional intensification of storms that we are seeing quite clearly,” she says.
Other parts of the world are facing extreme heat. Vietnam recently recorded its highest ever temperature: 43.4°C. The warm season usually peaks in July.
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