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2010 caps deadly decade, reducing disaster impact "critical" -- UN official.

Some 373 natural disasters killed over 296,800 people in 20l0 affecting nearly 208 million others and costing nearly USD 110 billion in damages, according to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED)."Ihe top two most lethal disasters -- the I2 January earthquake in Haiti, which killed over 222,500 people. As well as the Russian heat wave in summer, which caused about 56,000 fatalities made 2010 the deadliest years in at least two decades." "These figures are bad, but could be seen as benign in years to come," said Margareta Wahlstroem, UN Secretary-General for Special Representative for Disaster Reduction. "Unless we act now, we will see more and more disasters due to unplanned urbanization and environmental degradation. And weather-related disasters are sure to rise in the future. due to factors that include climate change." Moderate to strong La Nina conditions are now well-established in the equatorial Pacific Occan. and are likely to continue at least until the first quarter of this year. according to the El Nino/La Nina Update issued recently by the World Meteorological Organization.La Nitla is thought to be linked to the floods and landslides that occurred in Colombia last year. from April to December. and more recently the floods in Queensland, Australia, triggered by rains that began late in December 2010."lt is critical lor local governments, city leaders and their panaers to incorporate climate change adaptation in urban planning," Wahlstrom said, stressing that disaster risk reduction was "no longer optional." "What we call 'disaster risk reduction' and what some are calling 'risk mitigation' or 'risk management' is a strategic and teclmical tool for helping national and local govemments to fullill their responsibilities to citizens." Debarati Guha-Sapir, Director of CRED and Professor at University of Louvain, Brussels said "we need to act now and show results soon. lt is important that we clearly understand the direct causes of deaths and destruction of livelihoods lrom natural disasters. so we can act on them effcctively." Extreme climate events experienced by Europe include Stonn Xynthia in the west (February 20l0). Heavy Flood in France (June 20I0), and the extreme winter conditions all over Europe in December 20l0.Asia experienced fewer disaster deaths that the Americas and Europe in 20l0 - representing 4.7 per cent of total mortality that year - but remains the highest affected continent. Some 89 per cent of all people affected by disasters in 20l0 lived in Asia. according to CRED.Of the list of top I0 disasters with the highest death counts - live occurred in Asia - China, Pakistan, and lndonesia.Earthquakes killed 2,968 people in China in April and 530 people in Indonesia in October. From May to August, floods killed 2,69l people in China, and a further l,765 were killed by mudslides, landslide or rock fall triggered heavy rains and floods in August.Nearly 2,000 people were killed by massive floods in Pakistan that covered one-fifth of the land mass, due to rains which pelted the northwest from July to August.Floods and landslides during the summer in China are estimated to have cost USD 18 billion, the Pakistan floods USD 9.5 billion. and the Haiti earthquake USD 8 billion. But the costliest event in 2010 was the Chilean earthquake in February, which cost USD30 billion in disaster damage.And yet, economic losses in 20l0 still do not surpass that of 2005. where damage from Hurricane Katrina, Rita and Wilma alone amounted to USD l39 billion.In 2008, the earthquake in Sichuan, China, inflicted USD 86 billion in damage bringing the total for that year to about USD 200 billion."Preparedness at all levels needs to be reviewed and overhauled," said Guha-Sapir "The year 20l0 has shown that we should do better not only for relief response but also for preparedness." Since l988, CRED has maintained an lntemational Disaster Database known as EM-DAT. It includes all disasters from l900 until present, which meets at least one ofthe following criteria: l0 or more people killed; l00 or more people affected; a declaration of a state of emergency by country authorities; or an appeal for intemational assistance by country authorities.

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jan 24, 2011
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