In 2011, 336 natural disasters and 234 technological disasters were reported worldwide (the latest year for which statistics are available).
There were 31,105 number of deaths caused by natural disasters in 2011, compared with peaks of 2004 (242,010 deaths), 2008 (235,272) and 2010 (297,730).
The deadliest natural disaster of 2011 was the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan in March, which killed 19,846 people. The second deadliest natural disaster of December 2011 was Tropical Storm Washi (Sendong) which killed 1,439 people in in the Philippines.
The Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004 caused 226,408 deaths and the earthquake of January 2010 in Haiti led to 222,570 deaths.
The number of people reported affected by natural disasters (209 million) is the fourth lowest of the decade, but is much higher than lowest annual toll of 147 million (2006).
In 2011, almost 70 per cent of people affected by natural disasters were victims of floods. The most severe occurred in June and September in China (68 and 20 million, respectively); Damages from floods accounted for more than US$72 billion and were the highest reported for this type of disaster in the decade. The floods in Thailand cost US$40 billion. Ten other floods cost more than US$1 billion with a total of US$25 billion. By contrast 14 million people were affected by seven droughts, of which five were in Africa.
Notwithstanding the high number of deaths, the total number of people affected by earthquakes and tsunami (1.5 million) was the second lowest of the decade. The earthquake affecting the highest number of people (575,000) occurred in India in September, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, in March, affected 369,000 people and cost US$210 billion, and the February earthquake in New Zealand affected 300,000 people and cost US$15 billion.
In all, 2011 natural disaster costs (US$365.6 billion) were the highest of the decade, accounting for almost 1.5 times the direct losses reported in 2005 (US$248 billion, 2011 prices) and accounting for 57 per cent of all reported damages.
Technological disasters affect, proportionally, very few people. Among the five technological disasters affecting the most people, four were fires in slums. The two most severe occurred in the Philippines, affecting 20,000 and 10,000 people, and the two others in Kenya affecting 9,000 and 6,000 people. The explosion of an ammunition depot in Tanzania affected 1,500 people.
Source: Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), cited in World Disasters Report 2012—Focus on forced migration and displacement