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The period 1996 to 2015 saw 7,056 disasters recorded
worldwide by EM-DAT, the Emergency Events Database. The
frequency of geophysical disasters (primarily earthquakes,
including tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions) remained broadly
constant throughout this period but there was a sustained
rise in climate- and weather-related events (ﬂoods, storms
and heatwaves in particular) which accounted for the majority
of disaster deaths in most years.
In total, the number of weather- and climate-related disasters
more than doubled over the past forty years, accounting for
6,392 events in the 20-year period 1996-2015, up from 3,017
in 1976-1995. In 2015, the hottest year on record, almost as
many people died in heatwaves as were killed in the Nepalese
earthquake. There was also a doubling of major reported
droughts (32) by comparison with the annual average of 16
over the decade 2006-2015.
In terms of disaster mortality, EM-DAT recorded 749,000
earthquake deaths in the past 20 years, with 357,000 lives
lost between 2006 and 2015, the majority in the devastating
earthquake in Haiti in 2010. In the previous decade (1996-
2005) earthquakes claimed 392,000 lives, a fgure inﬂated
by another megadisaster, the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami.
Analysis of EM-DAT data shows that tsunamis were 16 times
more deadly than ground movements in terms of the
proportion of victims killed. That makes tsunamis (a sub-type
of earthquake) the most deadly major hazard on the planet.
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Poverty & Death Disaster mortality 1996-2015