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Droughts, floods dominate 2015 disaster trends in India, China

New Delhi : Close to 98.6 million people worldwide were hit hard by disasters in 2015, with India ranking third among the top five countries during the year. China and the United States were at the first and second rank.

The hottest year on record, 2015, confirms that weather and climate-related disasters now dominate disaster trends linked to natural hazards.

According to a new analysis released by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), climate was a factor in 92 per cent of all disaster events during the year, with the greatest impact caused by 32 major droughts -- more than double the 10-year annual average -- that affected 50.5 million people.

Floods had the second-greatest impact; there were 152 floods last year affecting 27.5 million people and killing 3,310 of them. This compares with the 10-year average of 5,938 deaths and 85.1 million people affected.

The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters in 2015 were China, which experienced 26 disasters; the United States, which experienced 22; India, with 19; the Philippines, with 15; and Indonesia, which experienced 11 disasters.

India suffered more than 2,800 deaths and over Rs 22,000 crore economic damage in 2015, while worldwide, the economic losses have been estimated at $66.5 billion, with over 22,700 fatalities.

The Asia-Pacific region was hardest hit by the 90 storms reported over this past year, which were attributed to rising sea levels and sea surface temperatures, according to the analysis.

Globally, storms resulted in 996 deaths and affected 10.6 million people in 2015, compared with a 10-year average of 17,778 deaths and 34.9 million people affected.

“The main message from this trends analysis is that reducing greenhouse gases and adapting to climate change is vital for countries seeking to reduce disaster risk now and in the future, said Robert Glasser, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction and head of UNISDR.

“National disaster management agencies in Asia are doing good work in reducing death tolls from storms through early warnings and timely evacuations, especially in the Philippines, China, Japan and the small island states of the Pacific,” Glasser added.

According to preliminary data from the Belgian-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), which also compiled the analysis, the death toll from 346 major reported disasters this past year was 22,773 – including 8,831 deaths from the Nepal earthquake.

Noting that the overall disaster mortality for 2015 was down on the 10-year average of 76,424 deaths, CRED Director Debarati Guha-Sapir emphasized that early warnings are having an impact in the case of storms.

“Further investment in this area is warranted by these numbers,” she added.

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