85% of Natural Disaster-Related Fatalities Occur in Asia

Population density plays a role, but why do so many natural disasters occur in Asia in the first place?



85% of all natural disaster-related fatalities occur in Asia, according to the World Health Organization. And starting tomorrow, representatives from 13 countries will meet in Vietnam to address the widespread occurrence of disaster-related fatalities in Asia and how to better prepare for them in the future. With Afghanistan’s 5.3 earthquake last this week, the 5.2 earthquake in
Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Pakistan today
, and Pakistan’s ongoing
flood crisis
, the meeting in Vietnam is utterly timely.

IRIN, a humanitarian news site, reported that in 2009 alone, “Asia accounted for six of the top 10 disasters in the world.” With China and India both in Asia, sheer density and the size of the continent obviously plays a role in the high number of fatalities in the region. But of course poverty, poor engineering standards, and weak preparedness policies also affect disaster recovery and fatality statistics. But the curious thing we’re waiting on geologists, climate scientists, and psychics to explain is this: why do so many natural disasters occur in Asia in the first place?

[Image credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team]

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.