Windstorms wreck havoc in past year

Fires also killed six children in Phuentsholing 

Yearender/Disaster: Astrologers predicted terrible windstorms and fire in the year of the Sheep. Looking back, the predictions had come true with several windstorms and fires recorded in the year.

Windstorms started by April when 792 households were affected in nine districts and injured three people. More than 92 structures belonging to culture, health and education ministers were damaged, and one cow in Dagana and four calves in Sarpang were killed.

Of the nine dzongkhags, Dagana was hit hardest, followed by Chukha, Samtse, Pemagatshel, Tsirang and Samdrupjongkhar.  The destruction on April 4 has cost Royal Insurance Corporation of Bhutan (RICBL) Nu 15M in compensations.

More than a week later, on April 17, Samtse was hit again hit by a windstorm where Norbugang lower secondary school (NLSS) suffered severe damages. In Trashiyangtse, several acres of maize crop of 20 farmers were destroyed by windstorm on July 6.

Few weeks later, on July 25, a powerful windstorm hit Tsirang. More than 150 acres of maize was damaged by a windstorm in the two gewogs of Dunglagang and Patshaling.

On October 13 and 23, heavy rain and hail that lasted for an hour damaged paddy and blew away roofs in several parts of the country. The hailstorm on October affected about 4,000 people across the country. Agriculture Minister Yeshey Dorji reported to the National Council that the hailstorm damaged 735 acres of rice crop, 20 acres of maize fields and six acres of chilli fields nationwide. Around 791 households in 22 gewogs in six dzongkhags of Punakha, Wangdue, Lhuentse, Mongar, Trashigang, and Trashiyangtse were affected.

His Majesty The King granted kidu to all 791 affected households following the disaster.

Besides the damage to several acres of forest by fire last year, six young lives were also claimed. Two boys were burnt alive when the hut, locked from outside, was gutted by a fire in September in Phuentsholing. His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen travelled to Phuentsholing following the tragic accident.

One moth later, four children- three girls and a boy, died from burns in a similar accident. One died on the way to Thimphu referral hospital, two died in the hospital while undergoing treatment.

Those along the Punakha-Wangdue were reminded of the 1994 glacial lake outburst flood when on June 28, an outburst of the Lemthang tsho caused panic downstream. The flood washed away five wooden bridges in Laya and Gasa.

The outburst did not cause major damage but it called for greater preparedness and mitigation measures other than early warning sirens.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

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