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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. t is a phenomenon that can cause damage to life and
property and destroy the economic, social and cultural life of people.
n contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. !hese
risks are the product of a combination of both hazard"s and vulnerability. #azards that strike in areas
$ith lo$ vulnerability $ill never become disasters, as is the case in uninhabited regions.
(eveloping countries suffer the greatest costs $hen a disaster hits ) more than *+ percent of all deaths
caused by disasters occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural disasters are ,- times greater
(as a percentage of .(/) in developing countries than in industrialized countries
Natural disaster
A natural disaster is a consequence $hen a natural hazard affects humans and"or the built environment.
#uman vulnerability, and lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, environmental,
or human impact. !he resulting loss depends on the capacity of the population to support or resist the
disaster0 their resilience. !his understanding is concentrated in the formulation0 1disasters occur $hen
hazards meet vulnerability1. A natural hazard $ill hence never result in a natural disaster in areas
$ithout vulnerability.
2arious phenomena like earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, floods and cyclones are all natural
hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year.
#o$ever, natural hazards can strike in unpopulated areas and never develop into disasters. #o$ever, the
rapid gro$th of the $orld3s population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environments
has escalated both the frequency and severity of natural disasters. 4ith the tropical climate and unstable
land forms, coupled $ith deforestation, unplanned gro$th proliferation, non-engineered constructions
$hich 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.
Man-made disasters
5an-made disasters are the consequence of technological or human hazards. 6xamples include
stampedes, fires, transport accidents, industrial accidents, oil spills and nuclear explosions"radiation. 4ar
and deliberate attacks may also be put in this category. As $ith natural hazards, man-made hazards are
events that have not happened, for instance terrorism. 5an-made disasters are examples of specific cases
$here man-made hazards have become reality in an event.
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the 6arth3s crust that creates seismic $aves.
At the 6arth3s surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by vibration, shaking and sometimes
displacement of the ground. !he vibrations may vary in magnitude. 6arthquakes are caused mostly by
slippage $ithin geological faults, but also by other events such as volcanic activity, landslides, mine
blasts, and nuclear tests. !he underground point of origin of the earthquake is called the focus. !he point
directly above the focus on the surface is called the epicenter. 6arthquakes by themselves rarely kill
people or $ildlife. t is usually the secondary events that they trigger, such as building collapse, fires,
tsunamis (seismic sea $aves) and volcanoes, that are actually the human disaster. 5any of these could
possibly be avoided by better construction, safety systems, early $arning and planning. 7ome of the
most significant earthquakes in recent times include0

!he ,--8 ndian 9cean earthquake, the third largest earthquake recorded in history, registering a
moment magnitude of *.&-*.:. !he huge tsunamis triggered by this earthquake killed at least
,,*,--- people.

!he ,-&& !;hoku earthquake and tsunami registered a moment magnitude of *.-. !he death toll
from the earthquake and tsunami is over &:,---, and over &,,--- people are still missing.

!he <.< magnitude =ebruary ,>, ,-&- ?hile earthquake and tsunami cost +,+ lives.

!he >.* magnitude 5ay &,, ,--< 7ichuan earthquake in 7ichuan /rovince, ?hina. (eath toll at
over @&,&+- as of 5ay ,>, ,--<.

!he >.> magnitude Auly ,--@ Aava earthquake, $hich also triggered tsunamis.

!he @.* magnitude ,--+ Azad Aammu B Cashmir and C/C province 6arthquake, $hich killed or
inDured above >+,--- people in /akistan
Volcanic eruptions
2olcanoes can cause $idespread destruction and consequent disaster in several $ays. !he effects include
the volcanic eruption itself that may cause harm follo$ing the explosion of the volcano or the fall of
rock. 7econd, lava may be produced during the eruption of a volcano. As it leaves the volcano, the lava
destroys many buildings and plants it encounters. !hird, volcanic ash generally meaning the cooled ash -
may form a cloud, and settle thickly in nearby locations. 4hen mixed $ith $ater this forms a concrete-
like material. n sufficient quantity ash may cause roofs to collapse under its $eight but even small
quantities $ill harm humans if inhaled. 7ince the ash has the consistency of ground glass it causes
abrasion damage to moving parts such as engines. !he main killer of humans in the immediate
surroundings of a volcanic eruption is the pyroclastic flo$s, $hich consist of a cloud of hot volcanic ash
$hich builds up in the air above the volcano and rushes do$n the slopes $hen the eruption no longer
supports the lifting of the gases. t is believed that /ompeii $as destroyed by a pyroclastic flo$. A lahar
is a volcanic mudflo$ or landslide. !he &*+: !angi$ai disaster $as caused by a lahar, as $as the &*<+
Armero tragedy in $hich the to$n of Armero $as buried and an estimated ,:,--- people $ere killed .
A specific type of volcano is the supervolcano. According to the !oba catastrophe theory >+,--- to
<-,--- years ago a super volcanic event at Eake !oba reduced the human population to &-,--- or even
&,--- breeding pairs creating a bottleneck in human evolution.
t also killed three quarters of all plant
life in the northern hemisphere. !he main danger from a supervolcano is the immense cloud of ash
$hich has a disastrous global effect on climate and temperature for many years.
A flood is an overflo$ of an expanse of $ater that submerges land.
!he 6F =loods directive defines a
flood as a temporary covering by $ater of land not normally covered by $ater.
n the sense of
1flo$ing $ater1, the $ord may also be applied to the inflo$ of the tide. =looding may result from the
volume of $ater $ithin a body of $ater, such as a river or lake, $hich overflo$s or breaks levees, $ith
the result that some of the $ater escapes its usual boundaries.
4hile the size of a lake or other body of
$ater $ill vary $ith seasonal changes in precipitation and sno$ melt, it is not a significant flood unless
the $ater covers land used by man like a village, city or other inhabited area, roads, expanses of
farmland, etc.
7ome of the most notable floods include0
!he Aohnsto$n =lood of &<<* $here over ,,-- people lost their lives $hen the 7outh =ork (am
holding back Eake ?onemaugh broke.
!he #uang #e (Gello$ Hiver) in ?hina floods particularly often. !he .reat =lood of &*:&
caused bet$een <--,--- and 8,---,--- deaths.
!he .reat =lood of &**: $as one of the most costly floods in Fnited 7tates history.
!he Iorth 7ea flood of &*+: $hich killed ,,+& people in the Ietherlands and eastern 6ngland
!he &**< Gangtze Hiver =loods, in ?hina, left &8 million people homeless.
!he ,--- 5ozambique flood covered much of the country for three $eeks, resulting in
thousands of deaths, and leaving the country devastated for years after$ard.
!he ,--+ 5umbai floods $hich killed &-*8 people.
!he ,-&- /akistan floods directly affected about ,- million people, mostly by dispolacement,
destruction of crops, infrastructure, property and livelihood, $ith a death toll of close to ,,---.
!ropical cyclones can result in extensive flooding and storm surge, as happened $ith0
Jhola ?yclone, $hich struck 6ast /akistan (no$ Jangladesh) in &*>-,
!yphoon Iina, $hich struck ?hina in &*>+,
#urricane Catrina, $hich struck Ie$ 9rleans, Eouisiana in ,--+, and
?yclone Gasi, $hich struck Australia in ,-&&
Limnic eruptions
A limnic eruption occurs $hen a gas, usually ?9,, suddenly erupts from deep lake $ater, posing the
threat of suffocating $ildlife, livestock and humans. 7uch an eruption may also cause tsunamis in the
lake as the rising gas displaces $ater. 7cientists believe landslides, volcanic activity, or explosions can
trigger such an eruption. !o date, only t$o limnic eruptions have been observed and recorded0
n &*<8, in ?ameroon, a limnic eruption in Eake 5onoun caused the deaths of :> nearby
At nearby Eake Iyos in &*<@ a much larger eruption killed bet$een &,>-- and &,<-- people by
5ain article0 !sunami
!sunamis can be caused by undersea earthquakes as the one caused by the ,--8 ndian 9cean
6arthquake, or by landslides such as the one $hich occurred at Eituya Jay, Alaska.
!he ,--8 ndian 9cean 6arthquake created the Joxing (ay !sunami.
9n 5arch &&, ,-&&, a tsunami occurred near =ukushima, Aapan and spread through the /acific.
Cyclonic storms
Tropical Cyclones
Cyclone, tropical cyclone, hurricane, and typhoon are different names for the same phenomenon a
cyclonic storm system that forms over the oceans. !he deadliest hurricane ever $as the &*>- Jhola
cycloneK the deadliest Atlantic hurricane $as the .reat #urricane of &><- $hich devastated 5artinique,
7t. 6ustatius and Jarbados. Another notable hurricane is #urricane Catrina $hich devastated the .ulf
?oast of the Fnited 7tates in ,--+.
Extratropical Cyclones
6xtratropical cyclones, sometimes called mid-latitude cyclones, are a group of cyclones defined as
synoptic scale lo$ pressure $eather systems that occur in the middle latitudes of the 6arth (outside the
tropics) not having tropical characteristics, and are connected $ith fronts and horizontal gradients in
temperature and de$ point other$ise kno$n as 1baroclinic zones1. As $ith tropical cyclones, they are
kno$n by different names in different regions (Ior3easter, /acific Iorth$est $indstorms, 6uropean
$indstorm, 6ast Asian-north$est /acific storms, 7udestada and Australian east coast cyclones). !he
most intense extratropical cyclones cause $idespread disruption and damage to society, such as the
storm surge of the Iorth 7ea flood of &*+: $hich killed ,,+& people in the Ietherlands and eastern
6ngland, the .reat 7torm of &*<> $hich devastated southern 6ngland and =rance and the ?olumbus
(ay 7torm of &*@, $hich struck the /acific north$est.
(rought is unusual dryness of soil, resulting in crop failure and shortage of $ater for other uses, caused
by significantly lo$er rainfall than average over a prolonged period. #ot dry $inds, high temperatures
and consequent evaporation of moisture from the ground can contribute to conditions of drought.
4ell-kno$n historical droughts include0
&*-- ndia killing bet$een ,+-,--- to :.,+ million.
&*,&),, 7oviet Fnion in $hich over + million perished from starvation due to drought
&*,<):- Iorth$est ?hina resulting in over : million deaths by famine.
&*:@ and &*8& 7ichuan /rovince ?hina resulting in + million and ,.+ million deaths respectively.
!he &**>),--* 5illenium (rought in Australian led to a $ater supply crisis across much of the
country. As a result many desalination plants $ere built for the first time (see list).
n ,--@, 7ichuan /rovince ?hina experienced its $orst drought in modern times $ith nearly <
million people and over > million cattle facing $ater shortages.
&,-year drought that $as devastating south$est 4estern Australia, southeast 7outh Australia,
2ictoria and northern !asmania $as 1very severe and $ithout historical precedent1.
n ,-&&, the 7tate of !exas lived under a drought emergency declaration for the entire calendar
year. !he drought caused the Jastrop fires.
A tornado is a violent, dangerous, rotating column of air that is in contact $ith both the surface of the
earth and a cumulonimbus cloud or, in rare cases, the base of a cumulus cloud. t is also referred to as a
twister or a cyclone,
although the $ord cyclone is used in meteorology in a $ider sense, to refer to
any closed lo$ pressure circulation. !ornadoes come in many shapes and sizes, but are typically in the
form of a visible condensation funnel, $hose narro$ end touches the earth and is often encircled by a
cloud of debris and dust. 5ost tornadoes have $ind speeds less than &&- miles per hour (&>> km"h), are
approximately ,+- feet (<- m) across, and travel a fe$ miles (several kilometers) before dissipating. !he
most extreme tornadoes can attain $ind speeds of more than :-- mph (8<- km"h), stretch more than t$o
miles (: km) across, and stay on the ground for dozens of miles (perhaps more than &-- km).
4ell-kno$n historical tornadoes include0
!he !ri-7tate !ornado of &*,+, $hich killed over @-- people in the Fnited 7tatesK
!he (aulatpur-7aturia !ornado of &*<*, $hich killed roughly &,:-- people in Jangladesh.
4ildfires are large fires $hich often start in $ildland areas. ?ommon causes include lightning and
drought but $ildfires may also be started by human negligence or arson. !hey can spread to populated
areas and can thus be a threat to humans and property, as $ell as $ildlife.
Iotable cases of $ildfires $ere the &<>& /eshtigo =ire in the Fnited 7tates, $hich killed at least &>--
people, and the ,--* 2ictorian bushfires in Australia.
5AI 5A(6 (7
!errorism1 is politically loaded and emotionally charged, and this greatly compounds the difficulty of
providing a precise definition. 7tudies have found over &-- definitions of 1terrorism1. n some cases, the
same group may be described as 1freedom fighters1 by its supporters and considered to be terrorists by
its opponents. !he concept of terrorism may be controversial as it is often used by state authorities (and
individuals $ith access to state support) to delegitimize political or other opponents,
and potentially
legitimize the state3s o$n use of armed force against opponents (such use of force may be described as
1terror1 by opponents of the state).
At the same time, the reverse may also take place $hen states
perpetrate or are accused of perpetrating state terrorism. !he usage of the term has a controversial
history, $ith individuals such as Ielson 5andela at one point also branded a terrorist.
!errorism has been practiced by a broad array of political organizations to further their obDectives. t has
been practiced by both right-$ing and left-$ing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups,
revolutionaries, and ruling governments.
An abiding characteristic is the indiscriminate use of
violence against non-combatants for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual.
!he symbolism of terrorism can exploit human fear to help achieve these goals
The three main groups of fre causes are accidental, natural and incendiary. Of the
accidental fre causes, electricity often plays a major part. Electricity can also be
involved in incendiary and natural causes. Fire investigators are faced with
difculty in determining the cause of a fre, they have often relied on the phrase
the fre was electrically caused as a catch all to avoid the more appropriate
phrase the fre cause was undetermined. !n fact, it is actually "uite difcult to
start a fre with electricity. This article discusses the various ways in which
electricity can be involved in the cause of fres and recent developments in
investigation techni"ues.Three elements must be present in order for a fre to
initiate. These are o#ygen, fuel and heat. $ot only do these elements have to be
present together at the same time, but the fuel must be conditioned in a way that
the heat source can initiate an e#othermic o#idation reaction. Electricity can play
an important role in this process by providing the heat source.

Short Circuits
One e#ample of an electrical heat source is a short circuit. There e#ists two main
types of short circuits% a dead short circuit and a limited short circuit.
& dead short occurs when a live wire comes in contact with a common or ground
wire 'or the positive and negative wires are connected in a () circuit* and the
circuit is subse"uently energi+ed. !n properly fused circuits this will cause the fuse
to blow and the circuit to de,energi+e. This type of situation does not create
sufcient heat to ignite combustibles. -owever, it is possible that the circuit is not
fused properly. !f this occurs, the current can continue to pass through the wires
causing them to signifcantly overheat. This type of situation can ignite
surrounding combustibles causing a fre.
An accident, mishap, or, more archaically, misad"enture, is an unforeseen and unplanned event or
circumstance, often $ith lack of intention or necessity. t usually implies a generally negative outcome
$hich might have been avoided or prevented had circumstances leading up to the accident been
recognized, and acted upon, prior to its occurrence. nDury prevention refers to activities designed to
foresee and avoid accidents.
Accidents of particularly common types (crashing of automobiles, events causing fire, etc.) are
investigated to identify ho$ to avoid them in the future. !his is sometimes called root cause analysis, but
does not generally apply to accidents that cannot be deterministically predicted. A root cause of an
uncommon and purely random accident may never be identified, and thus future similar accidents
remain 1accidental.1