Monday, May 31, 2010

Asia most at risk from natural disasters

IRIN: Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan top a new ranking of countries at "extreme risk" of experiencing natural disasters compiled by a global risk assessment company. The Natural Disaster Risk Index (NDRI), released on 27 May by Maplecroft, ranks 229 countries according to the human impact of natural disasters in terms of deaths per annum and per million of population, plus the frequency of events as well as the likelihood of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, storms, flooding, droughts, landslides, extreme temperatures and epidemics. Asia accounts for most of the disaster-related deaths since 1980.

Ranking countries most vulnerable to natural disasters over the past 30 years could enable businesses and investors to identify risks to international assets while supporting humanitarian efforts to push governments into investing in disaster risk reduction initiatives.

African countries at extreme risk are Ethiopia, Sudan and Mozambique, with 95 percent of casualties due to drought. Since 1980 drought has caused 9,800 deaths in Ethiopia, 5,300 in Sudan (ranked fifth) and over 3,400 in Mozambique (ninth). According to experts, unlike earthquakes and storms, drought damage is more difficult to detect, both in terms of human lives and economic loss because it is a slow onset disaster.

Whereas France and Italy, respectively ranked 17 and 18, are the most vulnerable countries in Europe because of the 40,000 people who died in heat waves in 2003 and 2006, the US, with more than 8,000 lives lost over 30 years, is highly susceptible to hurricanes and storms and ranked 37th.

Haiti and China are respectively at numbers eight and 12 among the countries at highest risk. The earthquake in Qinghai Province on 13 April 2010, of almost the same magnitude as the one that hit Haiti on 12 January, cost the lives of 2,187 people, against 230,000 who died in Haiti….

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