2020: a year of mishaps — [Part I]

“We don’t develop courage by being happy every day. We develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.” ~ Barbara De Angelis, a best-selling author, popular television personality and sought after motivational speaker

Source: Pinterest

The year 2020 has just begun, and there are incidents happening worldwide that can give anyone cold sweats. In the past five months, the world has suffered tremendously in the form of a pandemic (because of a virus), natural calamities, riots, tragedies, and whatnot. With seven more months to go, I am afraid of what more we are about to experience.

I have tried to accumulate some of the significant occurrences from January to May 2020, that have disturbed communities all around the world.

Let’s begin with…

The dangerous Coronavirus disease

The year 2020 started with a number of unfortunate events happening one after the other. The outspread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease) is one of them, and indisputably, the worst among them all.

Source: AARP

What is COVID-19?

Coronavirus disease (abbreviated COVID-19) is defined as an illness caused by a virus called severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). It was formerly called as 2019-nCoV. The most common symptoms of this disease are; fever, dry cough, tiredness, repeated shaking with chills, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath, etc. Other symptoms may include blocked nose, diarrhea, vomiting, etc.

Source: Healthline

Once a person has contracted the virus, it can take 2–14 days for symptoms to appear. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), symptoms of coronavirus can be mild and come on gradually. COVID-19 spreads mainly by droplets produced as a result of coughing or sneezing of a COVID-19 infected person. Some reports have indicated that people with no symptoms can transmit the virus as well. It is not yet known how often it happens.

It’s synopsis (thus far):

The first case of a person suffering from COVID-19 can be traced back to November 17, 2019, in China’s Hubei province, as per the Chinese government data, according to the South China Morning Post. On January 30, 2020, the WHO announced the COVID-19 outbreak a global health emergency, whereas, on March 11, 2020, the organization for international public health (i.e., WHO), declared it as a global pandemic.

Source: Onmanorama

Starting from China, the disease has now spread across all parts of the world like a devastating wildfire. Since then, the situation is worsening as there is no treatment or vaccine for this disease yet.

Talking about India, the deadly coronavirus marked its presence in the country on January 30, 2020, reporting the first case in Kerala. As of May 26, 2020, India’s COVID-19 count has touched the mark of 1.45 lakh cases, whereas the total number of deaths in the country due to the infection crossed the 4,000-mark. Among all states in India, Maharashtra is the worst-affected with 52,667 cases, followed by Tamil Nadu with 17,728 cases.

The global pandemic has spared none and created chaos in everybody’s life. Advanced countries like the US, UK, Italy, Spain, Russia, and Germany are amongst the worst-COVID-hit countries. Downfall in the economy, unemployment, affect on people’s mental and physical health, negative impact on all sectors of businesses, affect on social life, etc. are just a few examples of how the virus has disrupted everything.

Source: Freepik

Experts believe that social distancing is vital in containing the disease as the SARS-CoV-2 can spread rapidly without restrictions on human-movement. Following this practice, many nations around the world are administering different measures to slow down the spread of the virus. One of the primary and significant steps that several of them have followed is lockdown — a state wherein people have to stay confined to their homes. Countries like India, China, France, Italy, New Zealand, Poland, and the UK are among those who have implemented nationwide lockdown as a preventative measure to curb the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The implementation of the lockdown has put a halt on everything. Schools, colleges, universities, offices, services, businesses (except the essential ones), traveling, and social gatherings have been affected by the outspread.

At this date, the virus is still in force, spreading at a very high-speed. Researchers and scientists all across the world are working tirelessly to bring a solution to this adversity that has impacted millions of lives. I am hopeful that we shall overcome, and once again, the world will revive!

The disastrous Australian bushfires

Source: BBC

Bushfires in Australia are a regular occurrence that causes significant property damage and loss of both human and animal life. Each year, there is a fire season during the Australian summer, with hot, dry weather making it easy for blazes to start and spread. But, the 2019–20 Australian bushfire season was the most destructive one encountered in the past several decades. Australia’s deadly bushfires sparked earlier in September 2019. One of the primary reasons for the bushfires being so grievous this year was the country’s experience of an extended drought season from the last two years.

The impact of these fires was so extreme that several towns have been destroyed — leaving substantial damages in several areas — because of the fuming flames. Many residents across several states have lost their homes. Some reports stated that the strong winds fanned the fire, making the firefighting conditions particularly difficult for the firefighters.

Source: Canberra Times

The fires that were too swift to be spread across different parts of the country created havoc, destroying more than 14 million acres of land and taking several human and animal lives. Almost every Australian state was affected by the fires, but New South Wales (NSW) was hit the hardest. According to this report, 33 people died in a disastrous accident, out of which 25 victims were from NSW alone. An expert from Sydney, Prof Chris Dickman, estimated that more than one billion animals lost their lives in the unfortunate incident. Almost a third of koalas in NSW may have been killed in the fires, and a third of their habitat has been destroyed, said Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley.

A few news agencies reported that March 31, had marked the end of the 2019–20 bushfire season across southern and eastern Australia. The reason could be the end of Australia’s summer season, which starts in December and goes on till February. March brings an end to the blazing summer season, marking the beginning of the autumn season.

Flood-hit Iran and UAE

Source: Gulf News

Iran and some parts of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) witnessed heavy rains for a few days, starting from January 9, which caused severe flooding in these regions. Strong and windy storms accompanied the rain. Various regions of the country experienced massive downpour, which caused accumulation of rainwater on roads, damaging some of them. Airports were also seen submerged in rainwater, which resulted in delay and cancellation of several flights. There were reports of a few people missing due to the floods in the country.

Source: AlKhaleej Today

This unusually heavy calamity in the country affected the daily lifestyle of the people. Schools were closed as a matter of safety for children amidst the floods. The citizens there were advised to avoid going to valleys and areas vulnerable to flooding.

Quoting figures from UAE’s National Centre of Meteorology (NCM), some local news channels reported that this year’s rainfall was the heaviest in the last 24 years in UAE.

When a huge wall of sandstorm swept Niger

Source: Twitter/@franxstrax

At the beginning of May, another tragedy made headlines. This time, it was a sandstorm in Niger, a landlocked country in West Africa, on the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. Sandstorms are very common across West Africa during the dry season, which is known as the ‘Harmattan.’

Usually, a sandstorm occurs when thunderstorms lift a large amount of dust into the air, which can then travel hundreds of kilometers. But, this sandstorm was different, as it painted the entire sky red, leaving the inhabitants terrified. When seen in widely-shared pictures and videos, the storm appears like a ‘huge wall of sand,’ heading towards the city. The dust-storm hit Niamey, the capital of Niger, on May 4, causing air traffic to stop temporarily before torrential rains arrived.

Ukrainian plane crash by Iranian military

Source: Vox

Right after the year started, a Ukrainian plane carrying around 176 people was shot by a missile fired by the Iranian military, when flying upon its capital, Tehran. The Ukraine International Airlines’ flight PS752 was knocked down on January 8, just a few hours after Iran carried out missile strikes on two airbases housing US forces in Iraq. Iran carried out the strikes as a response to the killing of a senior Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3.

After turning down the claims of it hitting the Ukrainian passenger jet several times, Iran later admitted that it “unintentionally” shot down the plane, killing 176 people on board. Hassan Ruhani, Iran’s President, apologized on behalf of his country over the downed plane, and described the crash as an “unforgivable mistake.” The military statement reads, “the jet turned towards a sensitive site belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and was then mistaken for a cruise missile.” The military later issued an apology for downing the plane, saying it would upgrade its systems to prevent such “mistakes” in the future.

Most of the victims were Iranians and Canadians. Apart from this, some passengers were from Afghanistan, Germany, Ukraine, and the UK.

Watch the video footage below to view how the plane came down after crashing with the missile.

Source: The Guardian

Deadly gas leak in India’s Vizag

Source: PTI

It was the unfortunate night of May 7, when people in Andhra Pradesh’s Visakhapatnam (also known as Vizag) were awakened at midnight after feeling shortness of breath. The hustle was created when a major gas leak from a chemical plant in Visakhapatnam spread rapidly into the nearby villages. The incident, which took place between 2–3 pm, left people baffled, giving them no clue of the situation.

The dangerous gas that harmed so many people and took several lives was ‘styrene gas,’ and was leaked from a chemical factory called LG Polymers India Pvt Ltd in RR Venkatapuram village near Visakhapatnam.

Source: Getty Images

People living in a five-kilometer radius from the factory were seen gasping for air. Various pictures were shared online where people could be seen fainting and collapsing to the ground. Hours after the leak, several people, including women and children, were seen lying unconscious on roads.

Some localites informed the nearby police station about the saddening event, to which the authorities reacted quickly. Within an hour, the local police, with the help of fire safety staff, started evacuating the residents to a safe place. Notably, 20 police personnel suffered from mild symptoms during this incident, and a few of them were even hospitalized after inhaling the poisonous gas.

Source: Reuters

Initial level investigation shows that the temporary shutdown of the plant, due to the COVID-19 lockdown in India, caused the problem. The problem arose as a result of styrene gas not being stored at the appropriate temperature — below 20 degrees Celsius — which caused pressure to build up in the storage chamber and led the valve to break, resulting in gas leakage.

This entire occurrence led to the death of 12 people and several stray animals, leaving numerous of them hospitalized.

The deadly incident reminded people in India of a similar dreadful incident in 1984. A toxic chemical leaked in a pesticide plant in the central city of Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, killing thousands of people. Some reports claim it to be the worst industrial accident in history.

You were reading part one of my article, listing some of the tragedies that everyone, including wildlife and mother nature, had to undergo in the year 2020, so far. The next part will be uploaded soon, briefing about more such daunting incidents that have shaken up the world.



Works as a Jr. Executive @IITGN, building its image on social media channels. For me, writing is an art of expression and I worship it. A Bibliophile & Epicure.

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Dhara Vora

Works as a Jr. Executive @IITGN, building its image on social media channels. For me, writing is an art of expression and I worship it. A Bibliophile & Epicure.