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Earthquakes: Worst Disaster Type in Past Decade

Posted by feww on January 29, 2010

Earthquakes caused the deadliest disasters in 2000-09 decade: UNISDR

In its recent News Brief, United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction Secretariat (UNISDR) reported that about 60 per cent of the people killed by disasters in the past decade died as a result of earthquakes.


List of Top 10 Natural disasters by number of deaths – 2009. Source: UNISDR. Click image to enlarge.

“Earthquakes are the deadliest natural hazard of the past ten years and remain a serious threat for millions of people worldwide as eight out of the ten most populous cities in the world are on earthquake fault-lines,” said Margareta Wahlström, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction.

“Disaster risk reduction is an indispensable investment for each earthquake-prone city and each community. Seismic risk is a permanent risk and cannot be ignored. Earthquakes can happen anywhere at any time. Risk reduction will be a main priority in the Haiti reconstruction process, and we will be working with our partners to ensure that it is central in the reconstruction.”

The Center for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) has released the following statistics covering the past 10 years:

Number of disasters for 2000-20009 period: 3,852 disasters

  • Death toll from the disasters: 780,000 people
  • Total number of people affected by the disasters: about a thirs of the planet’s population (more than two billion people)
  • Cost of the damage caused by the disasters: About 1 trillion (US$960 billion).

The worst hit continent in terms of human losses:  Asia, accounting for 85 per cent of all fatalities.

Disaster Types

  • The worst category: Earthquakes, accounting for 60 percent of the fatalities
  • Second Worst Disaster Category:  Storms, accounting for 22 percent of the deaths.
  • Third deadliest: Extremes of Temperature, accounting for 11  percent of the casualties.

The deadliest disasters of the 2000-2009 decade:

  • Indian Ocean Tsunami:   Struck several countries in Asia (2004),  leaving 226,408 dead
  • Cyclone Nargis: Struck  Myanmar (2008), killing 138,366 people
  • Sichuan earthquake:  China (2008) killed at least 87,476 people
  • Pakistan (2005) earthquake: Killed 73,338 people w
  • Heat waves in Europe (2003): Killed 72,210


Human impact by disaster types. Source: UNISDR. Click image to enlarge.

“The number of catastrophic events has more than doubled since the 1980-1989 decade. In contrast, the numbers of affected people have increased at a slower rate. This may be due to better community preparedness and prevention,” said Professor Guha-Sapir, Director of CRED.

Of the more than two billion affected people

  • 44 per cent were affected by floods
  • 30 per cent by droughts
  • ONLY 4 per cent by earthquakes

The  death toll for the last 3 decades (annual average)

  • 2000 decade: 78,000 people per year(ppy)
  • 1990s decade: 43,000 ppy
  • 1980s decade: 75,000  (worsened by two major droughts and famines in Ethiopia and Sudan)

Natural Hazard Events (annual average) and Estimated Economic  Damage

  • 2000 decade: 385  at a cost of US$96 billion
  • 1990 decade: 285  at a cost of US$99 billion
  • 1980 decade: 165  at a cost of US$39 billion


Percentage of people killed by natural disasters by region. Source: UNISDR. Click image to enlarge.

In 2009, some 10,416 people were killed in 327 disasters and  a further 113 million others were affected. Cost of the economic damage:  US$34.9 billion. {there were no major disasters). the total number of people killed and affected by disasters was lower than in 2008, as no major disaster occurred.

In contrast, the 2000-2008 annual averages were 85,535 (deaths), 229,792,397 (affected) and US$102.7 billion (economic damages).


Natural disaster occurrence by disaster type. Source: UNISDR. Click image to enlarge.

The worst disaster in 2009

The worst disaster in 2009 (highest death toll) was the 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Sumatra, Indonesia, on 30 September, killing at least 1,100 people.  It was followed by typhoons Morakot, Ketsana and Parma and numerous floods that killed many in Asia, which was home to six of the top 10 countries with the highest number of disaster-related deaths.

Most populous cities on EQ fault-lines (A-Z): Delhi, Jakarta, Kolkata Mexico City, Mumbai, New York, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Source: UNISDR; edited by FEWW

Note: IF the numbers of fatalities/casualties in a given disaster are claimed to be larger than a few hundreds, and no video or photographic evidence is presented to support the claim, those figures should be carefully analyzed. Governments and aid organizations invariably exaggerate the casualty figures to maximize the inflow of aid and donations for self-serving purposes and interests other than those of the victims. See footnote at https://feww.wordpress.com/earthquake/haiti-earthquake-disaster/

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One Response to “Earthquakes: Worst Disaster Type in Past Decade”

  1. dg said

    [Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Moderator]

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