2010 Considered One Of The Worst Years For Diaster

A United Nations-backed research report showed Monday that 2010 was among the worst years on record for natural disasters over the past 20 years, leaving upwards of 300,000 people dead, and countless more injured and/or displaced.

Nearly two-thirds of the total death toll, came from the devastating Haiti earthquake a year ago, that claimed the lives of more than 222,500 people, according to the Belgium-based Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED).

Last summer’s heatwave in Russia was the second deadliest disaster of the year, leaving 55,736 people dead according to figures it compiled from insurers and media reports of official sources.

Margareta Wahlstroem, UN special representative for disaster risk reduction, told AFP that the 2010 was “one of the worst in decades in terms of the number of people killed and in terms of economic losses.”

“These figures are bad, but could be seen as benign in years to come,” she said, pointing to the impact of unplanned growth of urban areas, environmental degradation and climate change.

The economic cost of the 373 major disasters recorded in 2010 reached 109 billion dollars. Of that, an estimated 30 billion dollars in damage stemmed from the powerful earthquake that hit Chile in February. The temblor unleashed a tsunami that swept away villages and claimed most of the 521 lives lost in the quake.

China’s summer flooding and landslides caused around 18 billion dollars in damage, while Pakistan deluges cost 9.5 billion dollars, according to CRED’s annual study.

While Haiti is still struggling to recover from the earthquake that devastated most of the capital city of Port-au-Prince, it ranked lower on the global economic scale with an estimated 8 billion dollars in damage.

Of the 207 million people affected by disasters worldwide last year, Asians accounted for 89 percent of those numbers, according to CRED.

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