LAHORE: With 85,400 disaster-induced casualties during 1996 to 2015 Pakistan had featured in the list of ten most vulnerable countries alongside India where 97,691 people lost their lives.
As per Emergency Events Database report prepared by the Brussels-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (FDA), the other top-ten disaster-hit countries in terms of deaths included Haiti (229,699), Indonesia (182,136), China (123,937), Russia (58,545), Myanmar (39,515), Sri Lanka (36,433 deaths), and Iran (32,181).
In terms of deaths caused by floods, Pakistan was ranked as third with more than 5,100 deaths during 2006-2015, preceded by India and China. Mortality per 100,000 inhabitants for countries reporting flood deaths between 1996 and 2015 also included Afghanistan (9), Nepal (12), Namibia (13), Haiti (33), Bolivia (8) and Venezuela (112).
Apart from floods, earthquakes also accounted for the greatest number of disaster deaths per 100,000 population in Pakistan and Iran. “In terms of earthquake deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, Haiti far outstripped the next two worst-hit countries, Pakistan and Iran. Pakistan’s high relative mortality reflected the country’s 73,500 earthquake deaths in 1996- 2005,” stated the research report.
The countries reporting disaster deaths per 100,000 inhabitants between 1996 and 2015 included Pakistan (55 deaths), Myanmar (280), Afghanistan (57), Sri Lanka (185), Indonesia (80), Somalia (280) and Haiti (2461).
The report also indicated that since 1900, at least 172,730 people had lost lives in all natural disasters striking the areas, which are part of the present day Pakistan. In addition, floods, earthquakes and storms affected around 69.1 million, 6.6 million and 2.6 million people respectively.
Overall, some 71 floods, 24 earthquakes, 23 storms, numerous cyclones, 15 events characterising extreme temperatures, some 11 avalanches, at least 10 epidemics and nine landslides have inflicted astounding blows to the pre- and post-partition Pakistan’s prosperity since 1900.
The most notable of these tragedies included Balochistan earthquake (1935), Makran coast quake with 4,000 deaths (1945), River Ravi black flood with 2290 deaths (1950), East Pakistan cyclone with half a million deaths (1970), Karachi cyclone with 10,000 deaths (1965), Indus Valley cyclone (1964), Hazara, Hunza and Swat earthquake with 5,300 deaths (1974), cyclone at Sindh-Gujarat border with 609 deaths (1993), floods with over 2,500 fatalities (1992), earth quake with 86,000 deaths (2005) and flood (2010).
“Pakistan is one of the most disaster-prone countries in South Asia. The country has suffered approximately $18 billion in damages and losses from natural disasters over the past decade, said the World Bank report 2017, adding that nearly 3 million people are affected by disasters in Pakistan each year, besides, the flood 2010, incurred $15 billion loss – almost 7% of the national GDP.
In its June 2021 report, the Hawaii-based Centre for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance highlighted that Pakistan was prone to natural hazards such as drought, floods, heat waves, extreme cold, and earthquakes.
According to the Climate Risk Index 2021 report, Pakistan ranked eighth for countries most affected by extreme weather events between 2000 and 2019. The report added that Pakistan experienced a series of hazards in recent years. Drought-like conditions, which began in late 2018 and continued through 2019, affected five million people with 2.1 million people targeted for humanitarian assistance.
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