After the relatively moderate year of 2009, the extent of the impact of natural disasters took a turn for the worse in 2010. A total of 385 natural disasters killed more than 297 000 people worldwide, affected over 217.0 million others and caused US$ 123.9 billion of economic damages.
Haiti suffered 222 570 fatalities and had over 39.1% of its population – or a total of 3.9 million victims – affected by the January 12th, 2010 earthquake. Besides Haiti, many deaths were reported in Russia, which was affected by extreme temperatures, floods and wildfires, adding up to a total of 55 800 deaths. Most fatalities were due to the heat wave that occurred from June to August. These two mega-disasters made 2010 the deadliest year in at least two decades.
In 2010, the number of reported disasters approximated the annual average disaster occurrence during 2000 to 2009 (387). The number of victims increased from 198.7 million in 2009 to 217.3 million in 2010, but remained below the annual average number of victims of 227.5 million during 2000 to 2009 (see Figure 1). Economic damages from natural disasters in 2010 were over 2.5 times higher than in 2009 (US$ 47.6 billion), and increased by 25.3% compared to the annual average for the period 2000-2009 (US$ 98.9 billion). When looking at the decade, damages in 2010 ranked fourth, only surpassed in 2004 (mainly due to the Niigata-ken earthquake in Japan), in 2005 (hurricanes 'Katrina', 'Rita' and 'Wilma' in Northern and Central America and the Caribbean) and in 2008 (Sichuan earthquake in China).
The Chilean earthquake of February 27 th , 2010 ranked highest in terms of economic damages caused by natural disasters, with US$ 30.0 billion damages – or a share of 24.2% of the global reported damages in 2010. Ranked second, the floods and landslides in China from May to August cost US$ 18.0 billion. The Haiti earthquake was especially destructive in view of the country’s already impoverished economy. The costs of this earthquake (US$ 8.0 billion) surpassed Haiti’s GDP.
Globally, more hydrological disasters were reported in 2010. However, as meteorological disaster occurrence was lower, it evened out an increase in disaster occurrence in 2010. Similar to the average over the last decade, hydrological disasters were by far the most abundant disasters in 2010. These disasters represented 56.1% of the total disaster occurrence in 2010, and together with meteorological disasters - the second-most frequent disasters - accounted for 79.0% of total occurrence.
The regional distribution of disaster occurrence in 2010 resembled the annual average distribution of the last decade. Asia accounted for more than a third of the number of all reported disasters (34.8%). The Americas had a 25.2% share of global disaster occurrence, Europe and Africa both took nearly a fifth of disaster occurrence (18.2% and 17.9% respectively) and Oceania 3.9%. Europe saw the biggest increase in disaster occurrence, whereas Asia had the largest decrease. Although Asia counted fewer disasters, victims and damages compared to the last decade’s annual averages, the continent still took the largest share of disaster occurrence and victims in 2010.