Top 10 Common Natural Disasters that Affect People

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`For any human being, no other word encapsulates as much horror, misery, helplessness and doom as the term “Natural Disaster”. A natural disaster is any event of force of nature that is caused by environmental factors that has catastrophic consequences. Every year they not only decimate thousands of people and their properties but end entire blood lines. These calamities wreak havoc in the part of the world it chooses to act upon.

Over the centuries various types of natural disasters or “Acts of god” have stolen human lives. Several criterions such as damage, loss of lives or the amount of money that it takes to rebuild are usually used to rank these incidents. However the following ten natural disasters have been selected as the most common natural disasters around the world on the basis of the global frequency of occurrence.  Statistics from the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), an organization headed by the United Nations secretary for humanitarian affairs has been used in this article for rating the various natural disasters. The statistics cover the years from 1970-2005.


10).Insect Infestation (1%)


As Wikipedia defines; the term “infestation” refers to parasitic diseases caused by animals such as arthropods (i.e. mites and ticks), lice, and worms but excluding those caused by protozoa, fungi, and bacteria.In simpler words it is the spreading or swarming in of various kinds of insects over or in a troublesome manner.This disaster results in anxiety, various secondary infections and financial hardships. The rise in infestations has been hard to track because bed bugs are not an easily identifiable problem. Since most of the statistics related to this disaster have been collected through pest-control companies, local authorities, and hotel chains instead of some proper authority, the situation may be worse than is currently believed.


9).Volcanoes (1.7%)


No other natural disaster cause as many health impacts as a volcanic eruption. Not only are they a threat for a population living in the potential range of a volcano, they can also cause serious problems even in areas thousands of kilometers away through airborne dispersion of gases and ash. The lava produced during the eruption of a volcano can destroy many buildings and plants it encounters. Volcanic ash generally meaning the cooled ash – may form a cloud, and settle thickly in nearby locations. When mixed with water this forms a concrete-like material. In sufficient quantity ash may cause roofs to collapse under its weight but even small quantities will harm humans if inhaled. Of all the people killed by volcanoes between 1975 and 2000, 86% died in Colombia. Volcano-related deaths occurred most frequently in Indonesia in the last few years.


8).Wildfires (3.4%)


As we all know the direct effects of any type of  fire on human health is burns and smoke inhalation. In case of forest fires Loss of vegetation on slopes is also accompanied leading to soil erosion and increased risk of landslides, often exacerbated when an urban population expands into surrounding hilly and wooded areas. Air pollution is another concern related to wildfires.



7). Extreme temperature (3.5%)


In recent times there have been a significant increase in the number of deaths caused by extreme temperature. Heat waves can kill. And the best example of it is the, July 1995 heat wave in Chicago, USA, which caused almost 514 heat related and 3300 excess emergency admissions. . On the other hand the major causes of winter death are cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, circulatory and respiratory diseases. The major problem with this natural disaster is the lack of any standard definition of a heat wave or documentation of impacts of temperature extremes.

6).Landslides (5.1%)


It is the downward and outward movement of slope forming materials composed of rocks, salts, artificial fills or combination of all these materials along surfaces of separation by falling, sliding and flowing. Both natural as well as human activities are responsible for this natural disaster.The most dangerous issue attached with this disaster is the fact that it happens with no prior signs of danger. They are caused whenever the natural stability of a slope is disturbed. They can accompany heavy rains or follow droughts, earthquakes, or volcanic eruptions. Various human activities have destroyed vegetation on slopes thus making these areas more vulnerable to landslides during or after heavy rains. Landslides have major socioeconomic impacts as along with the people it affects their homes and possessions, industrial establishments, and lifelines, such as highways, railways, and communications systems.

5). Drought (7.8%)


It is an extended period of months or years when a region observes deficiency in its water supply whether surface or underground. This natural calamity is different from all other natural disasters as it develops slowly over a large time period as a creeping hazard. Along with the loss of thousands of human lives they also lead to crop failures, wildfires, energy shortages, famine and high food prices therefore affecting many sectors of the economy. The frequency of droughts in the United States is literally every year.



4).Earthquake (8.9%)


Also known as temblors, the effect of the rumbling produced by these earthquakes results in destruction of structure such as buildings, bridges and dams as well as loss of human life.The scientific reason behind their occurring is the shifting of two tectonic plates against each other. On average, a magnitude 8 quake strikes somewhere every year and some 10,000 people die in earthquakes annually .Earthquakes can be rated on the basis of their strength and duration of seismic wave. Quake measuring 3-5 is counted as minor or light, 5-7 as moderate or strong 7-8 as strong and 8 or above as great .In general around 500000 earthquakes occur every year in which only 100000 can be felt , rest being minor. Although collapsing buildings usually claim maximum of lives in case of earthquakes but the destruction is often compounded by mud slides, fires, floods, or tsunamis

3).Epidemic (11.2%)


It is the occurrence of a particular disease in community clearly in excess to the normal expectations. if preparedness in not sufficient a lot of panic is accompanied with this disaster making the conditions more miserable. They are the most commonly occurring natural disasters in African Continents. Epidemics can spread even as an after result of some natural disasters. Some very common epidemics are- HIV/AIDS, Ebola and Typhoid. Following chart shows Global deaths per year due to various causes, in early 2000s

Cause of death                         No. of deaths                                                    Percent of total deaths

I. Communicable Diseases         18,324,000                                                       32.13%

Tuberculosis                             1,566,000                                                         2.75%

HIV/AIDS                                  2,777,000                                                         4.87%

Diarrheal diseases                     1,798,000                                                         3.15%

Malaria                                      1,272,000                                                         2.23%

Other tropical diseases              129,000                                                 0.23%

Other infectious & parasitic diseases 3,362000                                                   5.90%

Subtotal – Infectious and parasitic diseases 10,904,000                                      19.12%

Sources: WHO (2004), EM-DAT (2007)



2).Wind storm (26.28%)


Wind Storm’s global frequency makes them the second most common natural disaster. All types of hurricanes, Typhoons come under this category. Global warming and resulting rise in sea level is one of the major reasons behind them. ISDR statistics show marked increase in hydro meteorological disasters during last 30 years. Populations living  in low-lying and environmentally degraded areas are particularly vulnerable to tropical cyclones Bangladesh has experienced some of the most serious impacts of tropical cyclones this century,

1).Floods (30.7%)


Floods are the most common natural disasters all over the world with their. A lot of intrinsic as well as extrinsic reasons are behind the disturbance of geomorphic equilibrium in the river systems. Floods can occur even in places where there is no stream. Another type of floods flash floods can occur within duration of few minutes without any indication of rain. Immediate effects are largely death and injuries from drowning and being swept against hard objects. Risk of catastrophic losses due to flooding has increased significantly in the last few years with the increase in the number of deforestation activities. Going with a report there were 539,811 deaths, 361,974 injuries and 2,821,895,005 people affected by floods between 1980 and 2009. However there is high probability of this being just an underestimate, particularly in terms of the injured and affected populations with the actual figure being much more higher.


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