China, Philippines on top of Asian countries worst hit by disasters in 2012

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Picture taken on Dec. 8, 2012 shows a destroyed bridge in Davao Oriental province, the Philippines. [File photo/Xinhua]

The Philippines is placed second only to China in the list of countries in Asia worst hit by disasters during the year, according to a report released recently by the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

The UNISDR said the Philippines had the second most number of disasters in the first 10 months of the year with 16 recorded disasters, next only to China with 18 recorded calamities.

The report, however, covered disasters that struck the region only from January to October this year and did not include typhoon "Pablo" (international code name "Bopha") that devastated a wide swathe in the island of Mindanao in the southern Philippines on Dec. 4 and left more than 1,000 dead and another 800 missing.

According to the report, the toll on the economy of the calamities that occurred in Asia in 2012 exceeded 10 billion U.S. dollars and that future disasters may represent a serious threat to the region's otherwise healthy economies.

A total of 83 disasters hit Asia from January to October of this year, leaving some 3,103 people killed and some 15.1 billion U.S. dollars in damages. About 64.5 million people were affected by these disasters across the region.

The UNISDR said Asia accounted for more than half the total disaster-related deaths in the world, 74 percent of affected people and a third of the economic toll due to natural calamities in the first 10 months of the year.

The report said that in 2012 floods were the most frequent disaster occurring in Asia (44 percent) and had the highest human and economic impact. Floods accounted for 54 percent of the death toll in Asia, 78 percent of people affected and 56 percent of all economic damages in the region.

According to the report, Pakistan suffered large-scale loss of life from floods for the third successive year as 480 people died in floods between August and October. Floods in China (June-July) affected over 17 million people and caused the highest economic losses of 4.8 billion U.S. dollars.

In southern, south-eastern and eastern Asia, 83 disasters caused 3,103 deaths, affected a total of 64.5 million people and triggered 15.1 billion U.S. dollars in damages in 2012, the report said.

Globally, the UNISDR said, these three regions accounted for 57 percent of the total deaths, 74 percent of the affected people and 34 percent of the total economic damages caused by disasters in the first 10 months of 2012.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), which was hit by severe flooding in July, topped the count with 13.3 million affected residents while Sri Lanka, which suffered quakes and storms this year, had 8.6 million people exposed to disasters.

British risk consultancy Maplecroft, in its assessment of 197 countries worldwide, also said that the Philippines, Bangladesh and Myanmar headed the list of 10 countries whose economies were most vulnerable to catastrophes or having "extreme risk" category.

Only one other country, the Caribbean state of Dominican Republic, falls into this category.

The other countries in the top 10 were India, Vietnam, Honduras, Laos, Haiti and Nicaragua.

Maplecroft's "Nature Hazards Risk Atlas" looks at the impact of natural disasters on a country relative to its economy, taking into account preparedness to deal with such events and social ability to rebound.

The ADB has also released its own study saying that Asia must act now to pave the way for green, resource-friendly cities or face a bleak and environmentally degraded future.


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