In a year in which one of the most anticipated international summits was the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), held in Glasgow from 31 October to 12 November, natural disasters – some of them caused by extreme weather events by global warming specialists – continued to cause numerous casualties and considerable material damage, while hampering COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in the affected regions. We present in retrospect the most notable such phenomena recorded during this year, according to Agerpres.

Vegetation fires

Europe has had its hottest summer so far this year, with temperatures slightly exceeding the previous two highest highs in June-August, according to the European Union’s Copernicus service. The average surface temperature in June-August was almost 1 degree Celsius above the 1991-2020 average, making it the warmest in this data set. In the “hottest” summers of 2010 and 2018, the average temperature was 0.1 degrees Celsius lower, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S). This trend has also been noticed both at other times of the year and in most parts of the world, including those in the Arctic Circle, increasing the risk of wildfires.

Significant wildfires, which have engulfed large areas of land, led to the evacuation of thousands of people and caused considerable damage and property damage, have been reported this year in Nepal – the most violent forest fires in the last decade -, Mexico, Spain , Italy – mainly in Sardinia, Calabria, Lazio and Sardinia – but also in Greece. The latter faced an extreme heatwave and hundreds of fires, most notably wreaking havoc on the islands of Samos, Evia, the Geraneia Mountains and near Athens in May, July, August and September.

Other countries affected by the fires this year, amid scorching temperatures, were Albania – where the August forest fires resulted in two deaths and the evacuation of thousands of people – Morocco, Northern Macedonia, Lebanon, Cyprus (a forest fire caused the deaths of four people) and France, where firefighters struggled to control the flames that killed two people and spread to the hills behind the tourist town of Saint-Tropez on the French Riviera.

In Turkey, forest fires in the south of the country have left six dead, hundreds injured and injured. Numerous “extreme” forest fires have also wreaked havoc in central Russia amid the heatwave. In Yakutia, in northern Siberia, Russia’s largest and coldest region, forest fires devastated an area larger than the surface of Portugal in the summer.

In Argentina, three people lost their lives as a result of wildfires that broke out in October in rural areas of the province of Cordoba and burned more than 30,000 hectares.

The United States has also been hit by numerous wildfires in 2021, some of which are rare. The worst-hit states were Arizona, Oregon and California, with record high temperatures – 54.4 degrees Celsius were recorded in July, the warmest region in the world. which, according to experts from the Washington-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was the warmest in record history.

Also in July, one of the most devastating fires in the United States broke out. Named Dixie Fire, it was so large that it generated its own climate. As a result of the death of a firefighter in the thousands of forces involved in extinguishing the flames, he burned 389,837 hectares, including several small towns, including Greenville and Canyondam. The fire was declared completely extinguished only on October 25.

Following devastating wildfires in the previous warm season, Australia has been spared from wildfires this year in the face of above-average rainfall associated with the La Niña phenomenon. However, major fires have been reported in South Australia and near Perth (Western Australia).


Tragic reports have been announced this year following floods caused by torrential rains. One of these phenomena occurred in July in Western Europe, when nearly 200 people died in Germany and at least 40 in Belgium as a result of devastating floods caused by bad weather.

Shocking images swept the world after the severe floods that hit central China in July left 302 dead and dozens missing. The torrential rains that hit the Zhengzhou metropolis, the capital of the populous province of Henan, led to the flooding of subway stations and tunnels and a road tunnel, with many people being swept away by the water.

More than 200 people have been pronounced dead in February in northern India after a massive part of a glacier crashed into the Alaknanda River in Uttarakhand state, causing massive flooding to destroy power plants, roads and bridges in the region.

In January, the death toll from two landslides caused by heavy rainfall in a village in the Indonesian province of West Java rose to 40.

In February, at least 24 people died after a clandestine workshop in the Moroccan city of Tangier was flooded due to heavy rainfall.

In the same month, at least 157 people were killed by floods and landslides caused by Tropical Cyclone Seroja in Indonesia and East Timor.

In May, floods that affected several provinces in Afghanistan left 46 dead. The same country was hit by severe floods in late July, when the death toll in the province of Nuristan was 113 dead.

In August, the death toll from the floods that hit cities on the Turkish Black Sea coast rose to 70 dead and dozens missing.

In the same month, at least 21 people lost their lives in what were described as “catastrophic” floods that hit the US state of Tennessee (south).

In September, at least 17 patients at a hospital in central Mexico’s Hidalgo State died in heavy rains.

The next month, the balance sheet of landslides and floods caused by tropical storm Kompasu that hit the Philippines indicated 40 dead and nearly 20 missing.

Also in October, nearly 200 people lost their lives after days of massive floods and devastating landslides in India and Nepal, with entire families buried underground in their homes.

India continued to be affected by the floods in November. Heavy rains in the south have left at least 41 dead at the start of the month. At least 25 people from neighboring Sri Lanka have died in floods and landslides. At least 30 people have been killed in floods in southern India at the end of the month.


As for hurricanes, after 2020 was marked by an unusually intense season, this year such phenomena were less common. Two of the most violent and tragic hurricanes this year were Grace, which left at least 11 dead in Mexico and Ida in August.

Hurricane Ida hit the state of Louisiana in late August, causing “catastrophic” damage, according to then-Governor John Bel Edwards, and then advancing to the northeastern United States, causing chaos in states such as Louisiana. Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and the metropolis of the same name. At least 110 people have been killed and tens of billions of dollars in property damage.

Another meteorological phenomenon that resulted in many casualties and significant damage was Cyclone Tauktae. It struck India in mid-May, making it one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the western part of the country. The toll from the tragedies has risen to nearly 200 dead and dozens missing.

Tornadoes that hit several U.S. states in the last month of this year – an unusual weather phenomenon in December – have left behind a disaster described by US President Joe Biden as “an unimaginable tragedy”. “One of the most devastating tornadoes in U.S. history,” according to the White House leader, hit six U.S. states in early December – Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee – and left behind dozens of deaths, while causing damage to entire communities and immeasurable damage. One of the 38 tornadoes in the series was about 400 kilometers long, according to the National Meteorological Service (NWS), as these phenomena do not exceed, on average, distances greater than 6 kilometers.

Volcanic eruptions

Among the disasters that have been noted this year are volcanic events. One of them occurred in May in Northeast Kivu province in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo when Nyiragongo volcano erupted. The toll was 32 dead and hundreds of homes destroyed. Some of the victims were caught in the lava flow in their homes, while others were killed by smoke and toxic gases from the volcano. Lava stopped on the outskirts of Goma, shaken by dozens of earthquakes and evacuated in an emergency.

Another eruption with significant material damage, but not casualties, was the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the Spanish island of La Palma in the Canary Islands. The incandescent lava expelled during the eruption that began on September 19 swallowed up houses and land on its way to the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. According to a provisional assessment after two months of eruptions, the lava, which reaches temperatures of up to 1,300 degrees Celsius, destroyed or damaged more than 2,600 buildings, and more than 7,000 of a total of 85,000 inhabitants were evacuated. being estimated at at least 842.33 million euros (953 million US dollars). About 1,040 hectares – about 1,450 football fields, or about 1.4% of the island’s total territory – were covered with a layer of chilled lava a few meters thick.

In early December, Mount Semeru volcano on Indonesia’s main island, Java, erupted, killing at least 43 people and injuring many others. The country’s disaster management agency said about 6,500 people had been displaced and about 3,000 homes had been damaged by the eruption.


A magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook the Indonesian province of West Sulawesi in January, killing more than 100,000 people and injuring thousands.

Another major earthquake occurred in February in Japan. Nearly 200 people were injured and another was killed in a magnitude 7.3 earthquake that shook Fukushima province.

A magnitude 7.5 earthquake shook Peru in November, injuring at least 12 people and injuring hundreds of homes, and Indonesia was hit by a magnitude 7.3 earthquake in December.

The most devastating earthquake of this year, however, took place in August in Haiti. At least 2,200 people have been killed and more than 12,000 injured, most of them in the crash of thousands of buildings in the Caribbean’s poorest western hemisphere.

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