Asia-Pacific world’s most disaster-prone region

Thomson Reuters Foundation . Kuala Lumpur | Update:

Indian villagers traveling at the back of a truck approach anither truck stuck along a flooded section of a state highway at Chachol village in Malda district in the Indian state of West Bengal on 23 August, 2017. Photo: AFPMore than 2 million people - an average of 43,000 per year - have been killed by natural disasters in the Asia-Pacific region since 1970, according to the latest United Nations’ figures.

In 2016, disasters caused about 5,000 deaths and economic losses worth $77 billion in the region, home to 60 per cent of the world’s population and its most disaster-prone area.

The region accounts for 57 per cent of the global death toll from natural disasters since 1970. The principal causes were earthquakes and storms, followed by floods.

A person in Asia-Pacific is five times more likely to be hit by a natural disaster than someone living in other regions.

The region lost $1.3 trillion in assets between 1970 and 2016 due to natural disasters, and the cost of the damage has been rising.

Floods, droughts and storms have affected 6.3 billion people in Asia-Pacific since 1970, compared to 0.9 billion in the rest of the world.

Natural disasters displaced 60.4 million people globally between 2013 and 2015 - more than half were in Asia-Pacific, including in the Philippines (15 million people), China (13.1 million) and India (9.2 million).

In 2016, 4,987 people died in Asia-Pacific due to disasters, the majority in floods (3,250) which hit Bangladesh, China, North Korea, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Storms accounted for 880 deaths and extreme temperature 336.

Droughts affected 13.4 million people in the region in 2016, mainly in China and Cambodia.

A large number of disaster-hit people were girls and women, who often experience disadvantages that make them less resilient. In earthquakes, for example, female family members are more likely to be at home in poorly constructed houses. They are also less likely to learn to swim or climb trees. In the 2004 tsunami that hit Indonesia’s Aceh province, women accounted for 77 percent of deaths. Sources: Asia-Pacific Disaster Report 2017 from the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific

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