Mongolia: Sandstorm - Emergency Plan of Action (EPoA) DREF Operation n° MDRMN014

Situation Report
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Situation analysis

Description of the disaster

Violent gust of wind swept across the country from 14 to 15 March 2021 where the wind speed reached from 18 to 34 meter per second in Uvurkhangai, Bulgan, and Umnugovi provinces, while in Dundgovi province, the wind speed was at 22 to 40 meters per second. The wind speed also reached 16 to 28 meters per second in Govi-Altai, Bayankhongor, Arkhangai, Tuv, Khentii, Dornod, Sukhbaatar, and Dornogovi. Even though warnings had been disseminated two days prior to the event by the National Agency for Meteorology and Environmental Monitoring, many who were travelling and had been herding their livestock are currently missing. Click here to see the map of affected areas.

According to the Mongolian Government Resolution No. 286 of 2015, should the wind speed reach 18 meters per second, it is considered as disaster while if the wind speed exceeds 24 meters per second, it is considered as the catastrophic phenomenon. This event is therefore considered as catastrophic.

Due to the wind, 590 people from 46 soums1 of Arkhangai, Bulgan, Bayankhongor, Govi-Altai, Govisumber, Dundgovi, Uvurkhangai, Umnugovi, Zavkhan, Uvs, Tuv, Khuvsgul, and Khovd provinces were reported missing on the night of 14 March and 519 people out of 590 have been found as stated by National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA). By 15 March 2021, 1.00 pm local time, 69 people out of the remaining 81 people that were reported missing were found. By the following day, the National Emergency Management Agency reported 10 people out of the last 12 missing people had been found died due to the sandstorm – one in Arkhangai province and one from Dundgovi province. As of 10:00 am on 16 March, efforts are being made to find the remaining two people in Sukhbaatar province.

As of 10:00 am on 16 March, estimated damage and loss include 10 casualties (1 minor and 9 adults) and 1.6 million livestock missing. It is still uncertain how much of the 1.6 million missing livestock are dead and alive as of 17 March.
As stated in the situation report, there are no household that have lost all of their livestock. However, 69 buildings including office buildings and houses are severely damaged, 587 fences and 92 gers2 are destroyed. Damages are still being assessed by relevant Provincial Emergency Commissions. The Deputy Prime Minister expressed his condolences to the families who lost their members to the wind. The Provincial Emergency Commissions were also tasked to prevent the herders who are going on otor3 to avoid potential violent wind in the future. This event is considered a tragedy as people lose their lives, although prevention measures were disseminated.

The sandstorm also caused damaged to major infrastructures such as electricity poles and sub-stations. Due to the event, at 11:20 pm on 13 March, the 216th pillar of the C-458 overhead line, which supplies electricity from Russia to the western regions, collapsed and left Bayan-Ulgii, Uvs, Khovd provinces without electricity. To provide the electricity to the mentioned provinces, temporarily supply connection is established at hydropower plant in Khovd provinces. Efforts are being made to restore the pillar by the Western region power transmission network staff. Also, there was temporary disruption to the 207th overhead line of electricity which supplies eastern provinces including Khentii, Sukhbaatar, Dornogovi, Govisumber and was repaired on night of 15 March.