Monday, June 15, 2009

Bangladesh, China top UN disaster risk index

Jonathan Lynn in Reuters: Asian countries led by Bangladesh and China dominated an index produced on Monday by the United Nations that estimates which populations are most at risk from earthquakes, floods, cyclones and landslides. The Mortality Risk Index was issued by the U.N. International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) before a four-day meeting of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction opening on Tuesday at which 1,800 officials and experts will examine natural catastrophes.

… The index, measuring where people are most likely to die in a disaster, looks at hazard -- the risk that the disaster will occur, but also exposure and vulnerability, which reflect how countries cope.

…Wahlstrom said the index showed that countries could reduce the impact of disasters. For instance Japan has the highest exposure to cyclones but ranks as only a medium risk for the category because of civil defence and other mitigation measures. "Our message is: you don't have to be defeated, because you have a choice," she said.

...UNISDR Scientific Adviser Pascal Peduzzi said the one weakness of the index was that it excluded droughts, because their impact was often linked more to civil unrest or conflict than weather or other natural factors. If drought were included, many African countries would be much higher in the index, he said.

Kaboom! In 1929, an oxygen bottle exploded, which resulted in the destruction of this building in Borsigwalde, near Berlin. From the Bundesarchiv's stupendous files, recently downloaded to Wikimedia Commons

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