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More than 3,000 migrants have
died so far this year trying to cross the Mediterranean – the highest total on
record. The official figure for 2014 so far is 3,072, though some claim the true
number is three times as high.
Across the world, the official
figure is 4,077, meaning three in every four of those who perished were trying
to get to Europe. Since 2000, 40,000 migrants are said to have perished
worldwide – more than half of them trying to get to Europe.
The worst incident of 2014 was
the apparently deliberate ramming of a ship earlier this month by people
traffickers off Malta, which resulted in 500 people being drowned.
The ship had been carrying Syrians,
Palestinians, Egyptians and Sudanese, and survivors said it was rammed after a ‘violent
confrontation’ on board.
I'm giving a talk entitled 'Are floods getting worse? at Swiss Cottage Library on October 9 at 1830, based on my book Flood: Nature and Culture. Admission free. All welcome.
Last year, the UK’s Environment Agency issued a record number of flood
warnings, while also in the last few years, Pakistan has had its worst monsoon floods
in eight decades, Thailand suffered one of the costliest inundations in
history, Colombia and Brazil experienced the severest in living memory, and
Australia’s prime minister declared the Queensland
floods perhaps the worst natural disaster ‘in the history of
So are things actually getting worse? I will be revealing that floods are
the natural disasters humans are most likely to experience, and that some of
the most ambitious structures ever built have been put up to defend us against
I will also be telling how stories like that of Noah’s ark, about an apocalyptic flood
which almost wipes out humanity, feature in dozens of religions all over the
world. Floods caused by rain, melting snow, storms, tsunamis, tides, the
failures of dykes or dams, or deliberate act of war all feature.
The talk will also look at the way floods have been portrayed in films,
literature and art.