The tragedy of the Earthquakes in Turkiye and Syria continues to deepen. On Saturday morning early, the 12th day after the first quake, the death toll in total for both countries stood at 60,000, with many more injured, and these numbers  continuing to increase.

The Global Disaster Alert Coordination Centre (GDACS) said that, as of Thursday, 3170 aftershocks had been recorded in the area, many of them of moderate intensity, and there is no reason why more magnitude 7’s might not occur. Over 200,000 people have had to be evacuated away from the disaster areas to places of relative safety. Damaged or partly destroyed hospitals are bulging at the seams with the injured.

At least 32 countries of the EU and IARU Region 1 have sent teams of rescuers, and what’s left of homes and buildings are being removed and sifted through in search of survivors or casualties.

In bittersweet news, a pregnant woman in Syria went into labour during the earthquake and gave birth while trapped under the rubble. Workers were able to rescue the woman’s baby, but the mother died before they could save her. According to AFP, the little girl is the lone survivor in their immediate family. Her parents and four siblings all died in the earthquake. Hospital management, where she is being cared for, have received many offers to adopt her, but meanwhile, the wife of the hospital manager, who has a four-month old baby, is breastfeeding the baby, and she is doing well. A small ray of sunshine in an otherwise bleak landscape.

Miraculously, however, a seven-month-old baby was rescued alive from the rubble last Tuesday, 8 days after the disaster. My medical understanding says to me that a 7 month baby could not possibly have survived that long without feeds and water, but clearly this baby’s time had also not yet come! And the next day, an 80 year-old Granny was also extricated alive from the rubble, so marvels do exist. I believe a young teenage girl was also retrieved on Thursday, but time must surely be running out for those still trapped in the rubble.

Meanwhile, floods, landslides and drownings are occurring in other parts of the world. New Zealand is shaking off the damage caused by Cyclone Gabrielle, with four deaths reported. 1400 people have been uncontactable, 9000 displaced and large areas experiencing power outages. The rain continued all of last week.

The Eastern African Coastal areas are experiencing extreme rain, floods and damage to households, apparently as a result of a la Nina weather system currently being experienced.

Again, GDACS reports that heavy rainfall continues to affect eastern South Africa, Eswatini, and southern Mozambique, causing extensive flooding and resulting in humanitarian impact.

According to media reports, in South Africa, at least twelve people have died. Damage has been reported to infrastructure and agricultural land, and the national government declared a state of disaster in response to floods in seven of our nine provinces.

In Mozambique, the number of fatalities increased to nine, while a number of affected people reached 39,225 in Maputo City and Province, as reported by the National Institute for Disaster Management (INGD). In the last 24 hours, authorities have rescued about 1,400 people in Maputo Province, while 15,403 people have been rescued in the southern part of the country between 7 and 12 February. More than 7,000 houses, 15 health centres, and 15 schools have been damaged or destroyed by flooding. Authorities have begun discharges of the Pequenos Limbombos Dam located south of Maputo City. 

In Eswatini, nearly 260 people have been affected by floods, while extensive damage to some infrastructure, including six bridges, was reported across the country. 

Moderate to locally heavy rainfall was forecast over most of eastern South Africa, most of Eswatini and central-western Mozambique for most of the past week.

The South African Government has declared a second National State of Disaster in response to the flooding. I don’t think we have ever had two states of disaster running concurrently!

Eye Witness News notes that the presidency said there was an urgent need to provide temporary shelter, food and blankets to South Africans affected by flooding caused by recent heavy rains.

Only the Northern Cape and Western Cape have not been affected by the rain.

Roads in Mpumalanga were left damaged while visitors and staff at the Kruger National Park had to be evacuated after some rest camps were flooded.

In Limpopo (north), bordering on Zimbabwe, damage was reported to a hospital.

Roads and bridges were damaged and cars were washed away.

In KwaZulu-Natal, levels 5 and 9 weather warnings were issued at the weekend for parts of the province after persistent rain flooded roads and homes.

Heavy downpours also affected Komani in the Eastern Cape last week, causing flooding of a major hospital and power outages.

“Farmers have suffered crop and livestock losses,” the president’s office said in a statement. The bad weather will require the provision of “temporary shelter, food and blankets to people who have lost their homes, as well as costly and large-scale rehabilitation of infrastructure.”

The National Weather Centre is predicting “persistent and heavy” rains ahead, with the risk of flooding due to “waterlogged soils and saturated rivers”.

And, just when you thought it might be safe to poke your head out of your bunker to see if the coast is clear, Tropical Cyclone Freddy comes barrelling down on Madagascar, travelling straight from east to west, threatening thousands of people when it reaches the northern half of Madagascar next Wednesday. Currently with winds of 220km/h, it is classified as “Intense” and a RED alert for Madagascar has been issued.

While that country has had more than its fair share of weather disasters in the last year, and we feel their pain, we in South Africa tend to worry more about what it is going to do, AFTER it crosses Madagascar. These things tend to weaken a bit over land, but could pick up strength again in the Mozambique Channel, and either carry on due west into Mozambique and far Northern KZN, or turn south-west, and expose the entire eastern coast line of KZN to its fury.

It would appear that the gods of geology and storms are currently cross with mankind (if you believe this kind of tommyrot), and they’re exacting revenge. Let’s try and behave ourselves a bit better in the near future, shall we?

This is “repentant” Dave Reece ZS1DFR reporting for HAMNET in South Africa.