90 percent disasters are weather-related: UN report

United Nations, Nov 24 (IANS) In the past 20 years, 90 percent of major disasters were caused by nearly 6,500 recorded floods, storms, heatwaves, droughts and other weather-related events, UN spokesman has said.

A new UN-backed report, entitled The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters, found that since 1995, over 600,000 people died as a result of weather-related disasters and 4.1 billion people were injured, left homeless or in need of emergency assistance, Xinhua quoted UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric as saying on Monay.

The five countries hit by the highest number of disasters were the US, China, India, Philippines and Indonesia, said Dujarric.

The report issued by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) notes data gaps, saying that only 35 percent of records include information about economic losses.

UNISDR estimated that the true figure on disaster losses — including earthquakes and tsunamis — was between $250 billion and $300 billion annually.

According to the report, Asia accounts for the “lion’s share of disaster impacts” including 332,000 deaths and 3.7 billion people affected.

The death toll in Asia included 138,000 deaths caused by Cyclone Nargis which struck Myanmar in 2008.

The report also highlights that floods accounted for 47 percent of all weather-related disasters from 1995-2015, affecting 2.3 billion people and killing 157,000.

Storms were the deadliest weather-related disaster, accounting for 242,000 deaths (40 percent) of the global weather-related deaths, with 89 percent of these deaths occurring in lower-income countries.

Overall, heatwaves accounted for 148,000 of the 164,000 lives lost due to extreme temperatures, with 92 percent of deaths occurring in high-income countries, said the report.

Finally, drought reportedly affects Africa more than any other continent, with 136 events between 1995 and 2015, including 77 droughts in East Africa alone, the report showed.

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