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article image2010 natural disasters killed 296,800 people, cost $110 billion

By Subir Ghosh     Jan 25, 2011 in World
More than 296,800 people died in 373 natural disasters in 2010. In addition, about 208 million people were affected by the disasters. The figures have just been released by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).
In January 2010, the earthquake in Haiti was the deadliest disaster of the year, killing more than 222,500 people. The quake measured 7.0 on the Richter scale, and was followed by more than 50 aftershocks over the next two weeks.
The second most fatal disaster was the Russian heat wave in the summer, resulting in 56,000 casualties. The abnormal heat wave caused wildfires throughout the country and the worst drought in nearly 40 years. It also killed at least nine million hectares of crop, according to rb.ru. This was said to be the worst heat wave in the last 1,000 years.
"These figures are bad, but could be seen as benign in years to come," Margareta Wahlström, UN Secretary-General for Special Representative for Disaster Reduction, said in a statement. "Unless we act now, we will see more and more disasters due to unplanned urbanization and environmental degradation. And weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future, due to factors that include climate change."
The other major disasters were the China earthquake in April, the Pakistan floods in July-August, the China landslides in August, the China floods in May-August China, the Chile earthquake in February, the Indonesian earthquake in October, the Peru cold wave in July-December Peru, and the Uganda landslides in February-March. The entire list can be downloaded as a PDF file.
Five of the top 10 disasters occurred in Asia. Earthquakes killed 2,968 people in China in April and 530 people in Indonesia in October. From May to August, floods there killed another 1,691 people, and 1,765 others were killed by mudslides in August. Nearly 2,000 people were killed by massive floods in Pakistan that covered one-fifth of the land mass, due to rains which pelted the northwest from July to August.
The Chinese floods and landslides cost $18 billion (USD), the Pakistan floods $9.5 billion (USD), and the Haiti earthquake $8 billion (USD). The costliest disaster, however, was the Chilean earthquake which cost $30 billion (USD) in disaster damage. The economic losses, however, are still less than those incurred in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Wilma alone cost $139 billion (USD). In 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China, cost $86 billion, and caused the total for the year to reach about $200 billion (USD).
Since 1988, CRED has maintained an International Disaster Database known as EM-DAT. It includes all disasters from 1900 until present, which fit at least one of the following criteria: 10 or more people killed; 100 or more people affected; a declaration of a state of emergency by country authorities; or an appeal for international assistance by country authorities.
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