CredCrunch Newsletter, Issue 25, September 2011 - “Disaster Data: A Balanced Perspective”
In the first semester of 2011, natural disasters had a devastating impact on human society. Preliminary EM-DAT figures showed the occurrence of 108 natural disasters, which killed over 23 thousand people, affected nearly 44 million others and caused more than US$ 253 billion of economic damages.
Sixty-one countries experienced a natural disaster, with 11 disasters (10%) happening in the Philippines alone. This country was mainly hit by severe floods and storms. However China, suffering from 8 disasters, counted the most people affected by natural disasters (25.9 million or 59%).
The March 3, 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the triggered fires and nuclear emergency situation had a devastating impact on the country. The Mw 9.0 earthquake, one of the largest quakes ever recorded worldwide, resulted in the loss of lives of over 20 thousand people, representing 86% of total mortality due to natural disasters in the semester. A total of 492 thousand people were affected and damages were estimated at US$ 210 billion (83% of total).
A series of tornadoes that hit the United States in April and May caused more than 550 deaths and affected nearly 18 thousand people. The economic damages of these tornadoes were US$ 14.5 billion.
Whereas 42% of disasters happened in Asia, 90% of total deaths and 73% of total people affected were from this continent. Moreover, Asia accounted for 83% of total economic damages brought by natural disasters.
Despite continuing efforts to make societies more resilient to disasters, a road still lies ahead for both developed and developing countries, as shown by disaster statistics. Disaster data do not only inform us on the impact of disasters, but also provide an evidence-base for gauging the effectiveness of disaster risk reduction measures