A disaster is a natural or man-made (or technological) hazard resulting in an event of substantial extent
causing significant physical damage or destruction, loss of life, or drastic change to the environment. A
disaster can be ostensively defined as any tragic event stemming from events such as earthquakes,
floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions. It is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and
property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people.
In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk.
These risks are the product of a combination of both hazard/s and vulnerability. Hazards that strike in
areas with low vulnerability will never become disasters, as is the case in uninhabited regions.
Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths
caused by disasters occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times
greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.
Main article: Natural disaster
A natural disaster is a consequence when a natural hazard affects humans and/or the built environment.
Human vulnerability, and lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, environmental, or
human impact. The resulting loss depends on the capacity of the population to support or resist the
disaster: their resilience. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when
hazards meet vulnerability". A natural hazard will hence never result in a natural disaster in areas without
Various phenomena like earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods and cyclones are all natural
hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year.
However, natural hazards can strike in unpopulated areas and never develop into disasters. However, the
rapid growth of the world's population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environments
has escalated both the frequency and severity of natural disasters. With the tropical climate and unstable
land forms, coupled with deforestation, unplanned growth proliferation, non-engineered constructions which
make the disaster-prone areas more vulnerable, tardy communication, poor or no budgetary allocation for
disaster prevention, developing countries suffer more or less chronically by natural disasters. Asia tops
the list of casualties due to natural disasters.
Airplane crashes and terrorist attacks are examples of man-made disasters: they cause pollution, kill
people, and damage property. This example is the September 11 attacks in 2001 at the World Trade
Center in New York.
Main article: Man-made disasters
Man-made disasters are the consequence of technological or human hazards. Examples include
stampedes, fires, transport accidents, industrial accidents, oil spills and nuclear explosions/radiation. War
and deliberate attacks may also be put in this category. As with natural hazards, man-made hazards are
events that have not happened, for instance terrorism. Man-made disasters are examples of specific
cases where man-made hazards have become reality in an event.
HELP DURING DISASTERS
Who does what in a disaster
As soon as a disaster occurs, a disaster management team is formed. This consists of the local mayor
and representatives of the fire service, medical and municipal services, police, army and other public
The team takes key decisions on how to respond to the disaster. All these decisions are recorded in a
logbook. The roles and responsibilities of each of the parties represented are described below. Mayor
The mayor is responsible at the administrative level...
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