Tag Archives: floods

Trial begins of manslaughter over dam collapse

DEC. 25 2020 (The Bulletin) — Uzbekistan’s Supreme Court began the trial for manslaughter through negligence of eight men who built and designed a dam in the north of the country that burst in 2020, flooding thousands of acres of farmland, forcing 70,000 people to flee their homes and killing six people. The case is being closely watched in Uzbekistan. Officials said that they suspected that corruption was partly to blame for the failure of the dam, which was finished in 2017.


— This story was first published in issue 467 of the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin

— Copyright the Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin 2021

Landslide kills 24 people in south Kyrgyzstan after heavy rainfall

BISHKEK, APRIL 29 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — A landslide in south Kyrgyzstan buried a village, killing 24 people, including nine children.

The landslide has forced the government to explain why more people hadn’t been evacuated from the area around Osh, known to be vulnerable to landslides, after heavy rain.

Landslides are common in Kyrgyzstan, a poor and mountainous country where many people eke out a living from rearing cattle in remote areas.

Pictures from the landslide show a whole section of green hill had given way and crashed into the village of Ayu below.

The Kyrgyz ministry of emergencies, which has previously been criticised for being under-funded and ineffective, said that it had earlier issued warnings to everybody in the village to leave.

Elmira Sheripova, a spokeswoman for the ministry said that a dozen families chose to stay. She explained that families across Kyrgyzstan often refuse to relocate despite warnings from the authorities.

“Families refuse to leave dangerous zones for two reasons,” she said. “First, people say that they have been living in their houses for more than 20 years. Even their parents lived there for many years and nothing dangerous has ever happened. Second, people were not satisfied with the land provided from local governments.”

Nearly 18,000 families in Kyrgyzstan are considered to be living in dangerous area.

Ms Sheripova said that over 11,000 have been resettled from dangerous areas, 4,000 are on a list waiting for land to be allocated to them by local authorities but more than 3,000 have refused to relocate.


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(News report from Issue No. 327, published on May 5 2017)


Floods hit the north Kazakhstan

APRIL 17 2017 (The Conway Bulletin) — Heavy rainfall triggered floods in north and central Kazakhstan, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. Media reports said that 5,000 people have been evacuated to high ground. The worst hit area was around the town of Atbasar, 260km north of Astana.


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(News report from Issue No. 325, published on April 17 2017)


Heavy rain floods Azerbaijani capital for the second time this year

BAKU, OCT. 17/18 2016 (The Conway Bulletin) — Heavy rainfall flooded parts of Baku forcing dozens of people to flee their homes and triggering a round of grumbling by locals about a lack of investment into essential infrastructure.

This is important because the popularity of Azerbaijan’s government has fallen sharply over the last couple of years with a drop in living standards linked to a devaluation in the local currency and a squeeze in GDP levels. Earlier this year, virtually unprecedented protests against a drop in living standards swept across a handful of towns in rural Azerbaijan.

This was the second major flood in Baku this year. The ministry of ecology described a flood in September as the worst for 36 years.

Reaction from Baku residents showed the levels of frustration felt by people. Aygun, a 28-year old teacher, said the government should start improving infrastructure in Baku and its environs.

“In the villages around Baku, the roads are all unpaved. So even after a day of rain, we get stuck in the mud,” she said.

And Emin, a 33-year-old consultant, agreed. He blamed corruption and mismanagement for the flooding.

“If they are going to build a new sewage system, they will need millions of manat,” he said. “But I’m not sure they have the money now when the oil prices are down. I don’t even know if they have the will.” He also referenced a cartoon on social media which showed the mayor of Baku, Hajibala Abutalibov, sitting and calmly ignoring the rain.

“I think the message is that it’s always ordinary people who suffer, never the authorities,” Emin said. “And that’s the reality.”

The government declined to comment but a spokesman for Azersu, Azerbaijan’s water operator, said the city’s sewage system needed updating.


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(News report from Issue No. 301, published on Oct. 21 2016)

Tajik town renames itself Rakhmonabod after Pres. Rakhmon

MARCH 3 2016, DUSHANBE (The Conway Bulletin) — Tajikistan’s senate approved a request from a small town in the east of the country to be renamed Rakhmonabod, after President Emomali Rakhmon, as a thank you for his prompt aid after a flood in 2015. Villagers of Pitovdasht, in the mountainous Gorno-Badakhsan region, officially applied for the name change last September.

Residents said they wanted this to be a symbol of gratitude for Mr Rakhmon, president of Tajikistan since the mid-1990s, who fulfilled his promise of building 82 new homes after the flooding.

In July 2015, the region was hit hard by floods after glaciers melted and over 10,000 people had to be resettled.

Observers have said the town’s name change lies somewhere between genuine gratitude and the president’s cult of personality.


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(News report from Issue No. 270, published on March 4 2016)


Zoo re-opens in Georgian capital

SEPT. 12 2015, TBILISI (The Conway Bulletin) — The city’s zoo has re-opened three months after a flood hit it killing 19 people and an estimated 277 animals.

Pictures of dead lions and tigers and of a hippo wandering through central Tbilisi flashed around the world on the morning of June 14 after the flood tore into the zoo. A quarter of its animals were killed in the flood.

The zoo has re-opened on its original site but will move to a new premise on the outskirts of the city later in the year, the zoo’s director Zurab Gurielidze said.

He also said European zoos had agreed to give 150 animals to the zoo.


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(News report from Issue No. 248, published on Sept. 18 2015)


Georgians find tiger’s body

JULY 5 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – The body of the final animal missing from Tbilisi Zoo after a flood swept into it in June has been found in central Tbilisi, media reported. Salima was an Ussuri tiger. Last year she gave birth to three cubs.


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(News report from Issue No. 239, published on July 9 2015)


Georgia investigates the cause of flood

JUNE 20 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) – TBILISI — Georgia’s government launched an investigation into the causes of a flood this month that killed at least 20 people, injured dozens more, flooded the city’s zoo and destroyed hundreds of buildings.

Local pressure groups, though, criticised the authorities for their slow response to the worst natural disaster to hit Tbilisi in living memory. This criticism could sting the ruling Georgian Dream coalition and damage their already fragile public support.

Nick Davitashvili, from the environmental activist group Guerilla Gardening Tbilisi, said: “The response by the government left a lot to be desired. Volunteers had to take on part of the relief efforts.”

Muddy, destroyed cars still lay around Heroes Square in the centre of the city more than week after the flood on June 14.

Immediately after the flood, thousands of volunteers shovelled mud and donated clothes and medicine to tho. The government, though, has now said that volunteers’ role is over.

“The risks are increasing and we are worried about the young people,” PM Irakli Garibahsvili said.

The ministry of environment has said that it is looking into setting up an early warning system for future disasters but the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network, the country’s largest environmental NGO said that this was an attempt to deflect responsibility for the flood.

“No disaster threat analysis, or preventive measures, have been conducted in Tbilisi for 15 years,” it said in a statement.


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(News report from Issue No. 237, published on June 25 2015)


River floods, kills 19 people and destroys zoo in Georgia

JUNE 14 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) -At least 19 people died after flash floods hit Tbilisi, smashing into houses, ripping up road and destroying city’s zoo

Torrential rain turned a small creek that runs through the city into a wild, uncontrollable river. It burst its banks and swept along recently paved and concreted areas into residential parts of Tbilisi.

Several animals escaped the flooded zoo, including lions, tigers, bears and panthers but dozens others died. A cornered tiger reportedly attacked and killed a man in a flooded warehouse on June 17. Police later shot dead the tiger.

The authorities ordered people to stay inside until they had re-captured all the animals. Video showed a hippo roaming through central Tbilisi before being hit with a tranquilliser dart and brought under control.

The carcasses of dead lions, bears and deer floated through flooded streets, past smashed cars caked with mud and houses missing walls.

This was one of the worst natural disaster to hit Tbilisi in living memory.

PM Irakli Garibashvili said around 200 people lost their homes and that the cost of repairing the city would be around 50m euro.

But the damage to Georgia’s prestige may be worse. People were quick to portion blame for the floods, many saying poor construction work had destroyed the river’s run-off area.

Nana Janashia, director of the Caucasus Environmental NGO Network (CENN), also said the non-existence of an emergency plan was also a problem.

“This was absolutely predictable and is the result of high rain precipitation, human impact and poor infrastructures dating back to Soviet times,” she said.

Others blamed former president Mikheil Saakashvili who initiated the construction of the new highway. In a 2009 article, the magazine Liberali said the construction of the highway could lead to potential disastrous floods.


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(News report from Issue No. 236, published on June 18 2015)


Floods hit central Kazakhstan

APRIL 15 2015 (The Conway Bulletin) –  A rise in snowmelt, triggered by an increase in temperatures, has caused rivers to burst their banks, media reported. The Karaganda oblast’s emergency department said nearly 2,000 homes had been flooded.

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(News report from Issue No. 227, published on April 15 2015)