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Situation Reports for Past Disasters

2008 Hurricane Season
In August 2008, Hurricane Gustav affected the Caribbean and the U.S., leaving widespread damage in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Jamaica.

Floods in Belize
The first named storms for the 2008 hurricane season hit Belize simultaneously and extensively impacted the coastal and southern areas of the country with severe flash floods. Tropical Storm Alma developed on the Eastern Pacific on 27 May and Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season, hit Belize on 31 May.

Hurricane Felix
Hurricane Felix strikes Nicaragua and Honduras. (September 2007)

Hurricane Dean
Hurricane Dean raced across the eastern Caribbean, a category 3 storm, ripping roofs off homes, downing trees and power lines but fortunately not causing widespread casualties. PAHO/WHO reports from Dominica, Saint Lucia and Martinique point to some damage to hospitals, particularly the Victoria Hospital, Saint Lucia’s main public hospital, located in the capital Castries with a capacity of 160 beds and the Princess Margaret Hospital (capacity 227 beds)which is the only hospital in Dominica. Hurricane Dean could strengthen to Category 4 by the time it reaches Jamaica and later Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

Earthquake in Peru
An earthquake with a magnitude of 8.0 struck the coast of Peru on August 15, 2007 at 18:40 (local time). The epicenter was located approximately 60km south of the city of Pisco in the department of Ica. The quake caused the interruption of both power and telephone services in several cities, including the capital city of Lima. Buildings collapsed in the cities of Pisco and Cañete. Initial Civil Defense reports put the death toll at 437 with more than 1000 injured from the quake and tens of thousands affected.

Nicaragua - Methanol Poisoning
A massive poisoning outbreak by ingestion of home distilled "guaro" contaminated by Methanol were detected on 2 September in the departments of León and of Chinandega, Nicaragua. Subsequently it extended to several wards of the same city and cases have also been reported in other municipalities. The Laboratory of Forensic Medicine of Managua confirmed the presence of Methanol in 23 samples of hospitalized patients.

Tungurahua Eruption - August 2006


Floods in Suriname - May 2006
Heavy rains in South-East Suriname have caused flooding in more than 175 villages, affecting approximately 24,000 people. The situation has prompted the President to declare an emergency situation. Many thousands have been displaced.

Floods in Bolivia - February 2006
Torrential rains almost in all of the territory of Bolivia have caused overflowing of important rivers, affecting La Paz and Trinidad cities and several rural communities across the country. Heavy rains triggered landslides and road obstructions causing the isolation of some rural communities. The National Meteorological Service has informed that rain will continue over the next weeks. The government has declared a national emergency and authorities are making an appeal for international assistance.

Floods in Central America and Mexico - October 2005
Rains brought on by Hurricane Stan have produced serious flooding and landslides in communities along the Atlantic coast of Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua and El Salvador.

Hurricanes Katrina and Rita


Floods in Guyana
Guyana has been experiencing an excessive amount of rainfall. By mid-January, 27 inches of rain had fallen. This has caused considerable flooding along the coastal regions which are the most densely populated areas of Guyana. It is estimated that more than 70,000 persons in the Georgetown area are seriously affected by the floods. Along the coastal regions, the number is much higher. The Government of Guyana has several regions of the country as disaster areas.

Tropical Storm Jeanne
Jeanne is the tenth storm of the 2004 hurricane season. It has affected Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

Earthquake in Argentina and Chile

Hurricane Ivan
Ivan was the worst hurricane of the 2004 season, leaving a path of destruction in the Caribbean. The Cayman Islands and Grenada suffered the brunt of the storm, although it also affected Cuba, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica.

Hurricane Frances
In preparation for Hurricane Frances the Health Emergency Operation Center is activated. The Ministry of Health conducted the first meeting of the Health Disaster Committee Monday afternoon and deployed two teams (physicians and nurses) to the southern islands. All departments have activated their emergency plans. Health protocols and instruments for health surveillance and needs assessments are being reviewed and/or updated and distributed to all facilities.

Fire Tragedy in Paraguay
On Sunday, August 1, 2004, a fire broke out in a supermarket in Asunción, Paraguay when the store was full of weekend customers. Official sources from the Justice Department and the Ministry of Health report that 378 people died at the scene due to inhalation of toxic gases and burns.There were also about 300 injured, that are being treated at the main hospitals in Asunción. Most of them are suffering from smoke inhalation and burns of different degrees.

Torrential rains and flooding in the Dominican Republic
Torrential rains began lashing the Dominican Republic last Friday, May 21, resulting in severe flooding in the northwest and north of the country and in the capital, Santo Domingo. The PAHO/WHO Office in Santo Domingo is assessing the damage and identifying the immediate needs of the affected population.

Situation in Haiti
In the context of the humanitarian crisis in Haiti that started in February 2004, PAHO/WHO carried out a rapid assessment of health facilities to determine their capacity to meet emergency needs and guarantee the continued provision of essential health services. There is also complete information regarding the humanitarian crisis.

Earthquake in the Dominican Republic
A magnitude 6.5 earthquake occurred in the Dominican Republic on Monday, 22 September. The quake struck 10 miles south Puerto Plata (pop 89,000) and 95 miles north northwest of the capital Santo Domingo.

Hurricane Isabel
Despite its tremendous power, Hurricane Isabel spared the Caribbean region the weekend of September 13, 2003. The Family Islands of the Bahamas experienced storm surges and wave damage and the Ministry of Health and PAHO met to plan response activities. Rapid needs assessment forms were distributed to all the islands.

Volcanic Eruption in Montserrat
The government of Montserrat declared the island an emergency zone after the Soufriere Hills volcano started erupting on Juy 12, 2003. Conditions have been exacerbated by heavy rains. Although there have not been serious injuries, the government has requesed the donation of dust masks for the population.

Earthquake in Colima - Mexico 21 January 2003
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the western state of Colima on 21 January 2003. Due to its epicenter and magnitude, it was also felt strongly in Mexico City. It is the largest earthquake in this general area since a magnitude 8.0 earthquake on October 1985.

Earthquake in Mexico - 21 January 2003
A magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck the western state of Colima on 21 January 2003. Due to its epicenter and magnitude, it was also felt strongly in Mexico City. It is the largest earthquake in this general area since a magnitude 8.0 earthquake on October 1985.

Floods in Costa Rica
Intense rains caused severe flooding that affected the Caribbean basin and the north section of Costa Rica the weekend of November 29-December 1. The floods caused the overflowing of banks, landslides and severe damage to the infrastructure. The government has declared a state of emergency.

Volcanic Eruptions in Ecuador
Ecuador's Reventador Volcano erupted on 3 November, producing a huge explosion and a cloud of ash that reached a height of 20 km. Hundreds of persons have been evacuated, primarily those working on the oil pipeline being constructed in the region. Fortunately, the affected area is sparsely populated; however, 1200 families are living in the highly at-risk area and may have to be evacuated.

Hurricane Lili in the Caribbean
Hurricane Lili followed the same path as Isidore, causing damages in Jamaica and Cuba. In both countries, power and telecommunications lines, crops and buildings were affected. In Jamaica, one hospital had to be closed, high water turbidity washed out latrines and raw sewage problems were experienced in several communities. Three of the major water supply systems were out of service. In Cuba, 316,000 people were evacuated and more than 570 homes were severely damaged.

Dengue Epidemic in El Salvador and Honduras
To date, the countries most affected by the dengue epidemic are El Salvador and Honduras. Both countries have declared a State of Emergency. Prevention and control measures taken so far have not been sufficient and cases of dengue continue to emerge in urban and suburban areas. Concern has risen in the last few weeks that the epidemic will spread to other countries in Central America.

Extreme Cold Affected Several South American Countries
A cold front affected Argentina, Chile, Perú and Bolivia and turned critical, especially in Potosi, Bolivia. Eight deaths have been attributed to the extreme cold. Approximately 2,500 families have been affected by this meteorological event. The incidence of respiratory illnesses have increased.

Dengue in El Salvador
In recent months the endemic dengue disease has gotten worse in El Salvador, turning into a national priority. In light of this situation, the President has declared a state of emergency caused by Dengue in several departments. Although, the PAHO/WHO Representative Office in El Salvador is helping with these efforts, the resources are limited and necessary. For this reason, the Pan American Health Organization is calling on the international community to cooperate with this event.

Floods Hit Several Latin American and Caribbean Countries
A wide area of Latin America and the Caribbean has been affected by extensive rainfall lately. Among the countries hardest hit were Chile, Haiti, Jamaica and Nicaragua. Jamaica and Haiti were affected by a tropical wave that caused major flooding and landslides in parts of both countries. Heavy rains hit Central America and Chile causing major floods in urban and rural areas.

Floods in Bolivia
Torrential rains accompanied by hail struck La Paz, Bolivia in the afternoon of 19 February with such intensity that in just 45 minutes a large portion of the city was flooded. A rainstorm of this intensity had not struck the region since 1965 and took the population and local authorities by surprise.

Intense Rains in Eastern Peru (only in Spanish)
On 3 February 2002 a cold front moved from Bolivia into Peru, merging with another front originating in Brazil. This produced intense rainfall that sparked floods in the departments of Lima, Cusco, Tumbes, Junín, Moquegua y Madre de Dios. As a result of the floods more than 1,500 houses were flooded and hundreds of families were affected. Two persons died when their dwelling collapsed.
only in Spanish

Hurricane Iris
After racing across the Caribbean islands of Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, Hurricane Iris made landfall striking Belize early Tuesday morning, October 9. More on PAHO/WHO activities in Belize.

Hurricane Michelle
Hurricane Michelle began as a tropical depression off the coast of Central America late last week, almost exactly three years to the day Hurricane Mitch left a trail of death and destruction in the Region. Michelle then moved on to lash Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba and Bahamas.

Earthquake in Peru—Situation Report No. 4 until today.
Health reports from the Pan American Health Organization in Perú. (Available only in Spanish)

Earthquake in Peru—Situation Report No. 3
The Ministry of Health in Peru has declared a state of emergency Arequipa, Moquegua and Tacna, as well as in Parincacocha, Paucar, and Sara Sara in the department of Ayacucho. Peru has requested that the international community should assist in the relief and rehabilitation efforts in the affected areas.

Earthquake in Peru—Situation Report No. 2
On Sunday evening, 24 June, the Disaster Office of Peru´s Ministry of Health organized a coordination meeting with Peruvian professionals responsible for disaster response, personnel from PAHO/WHO and UNICEF, Peru´s specialized Center for Seismic Engineering and Disaster Mitigation (CISMID) and experts in hospital mitigation.

Earthquake in Peru and Chile—Situation Report No. 1
On Saturday, 23 June at 3:30 p.m., a major earthquake shook the southern coast of Peru. The epicenter was located in the Pacific Ocean, 190 km. east of Arequipa, at a depth of 33 km. The northern area of Chile was also affected.

Earthquake in El Salvador
Lists the latest Situation Reports on the earthquake that struck El Salvador on January 13, 2001. Also includes some useful links for people interested in learning more about this disaster.

Hurrican Keith in Belize - Post Disaster Stress Management, Mental Health Program (Oct. 7-11)
Report from Belize following Hurrican Keith on the mental health conditions of the affected population.

Hurricane Keith Home Page
On 6 October, 2000: Hurricane Keith brought disaster and destruction to Belize. The excessive wind, torrential rains and resulting floods grievously affected the central and northern regions of Belize and about two thirds of the agricultural and fisheries sectors. The economic value of the loss or damage has been estimated at US$105.8 million for agriculture and US$ 6.0 for fisheries.

Disaster in Venezuela
In December 13-14 1999, torrential rainfall produced serious flooding and mudslides that began on and affected ten states in the northern part of Venezuela, including its capital, Caracas. National authorities estimate that more than 20,000 people were killed and more than 200,000 have been affected. More than 4,000 persons were transferred to temporary shelters in La Guaira, Caracas, Maracay and Valencia.

Images from Hurricane Lenny
Images from the hurricane that struck the Caribbean in 1999.

Earthquake in Mexico
The earthquake in Mexico in September 30 1999 caused 18 deaths nationwide. The damages to the hospital infrastructure were confined to the Juquila Hospital, in the State of Oaxaca, where 12 beds were lost and in the General Hospital in the City of Oaxaca, which suffered only superficial cracks and continue to function normally.

Hurricane Mitch
In October, 1998 Hurricane Mitch brought disaster and destruction that will be remembered as the most deadly hurricane to strike the Western Hemisphere in the last two centuries. Mitch struck Central America with such viciousness that it was nearly a week before the magnitude of the disaster began to reach the outside world. The death toll currently is reported as 11,000 with thousands of others missing. More than three million people were either homeless or severely affected.

El Niño Phenomenon
This page explains El Niño. The term "El Niño" is used for these exceptionally strong intervals of warm water currents that cause heavy rains and prolonged droughts. Effects on health have been highly variable in the different countries. But health and other sectors are currently much better prepared in most countries than before.