DISASTER EVENTS IN ASIA AND THE PACIFIC IN 2011
Asia and the Pacific continues to live up to its reputation as the world’s most natural-disaster-prone region. The International Disaster Database, EM-DAT, reports 89 natural-disaster events in the region in 2011. In terms of the number of events, China (14), Indonesia (6) and the Philippines (22) top the list. However, Japan, the Philippines and Thailand suffered the greatest number of lives lost.
Japan lost 28,500 people in the Great East Japan earthquake and tsunami in March. The number of deaths due to Tropical Storm Washi in the Philippines continues to rise, but is already over 1,000. This is in addition to the 500 people who died in the country’s many other storms and flash floods throughout the year. The South-East Asia floods resulted in the deaths of 1,400 people. A total of 944 of those people were in Thailand.
In 2011, the region suffered deadly earthquakes in Japan, Myanmar and New Zealand. In addition, an earthquake in a remote area of the Himalayas affected Bhutan, India and Nepal. OCHA provided assistance in Bhutan, Japan, Myanmar and Nepal.
Australia, China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Myanmar and Sri Lanka experienced devastating floods. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam were all affected by the South-East Asia floods. OCHA has provided its expertise or financial support to all the countries affected, except Australia and China.
Tropical storms or typhoons also took their toll on a number of countries, particularly the Philippines which was hit by 10 storms this season. In contrast to the region’s many storms, the islands of Tuvalu (population 10,000) and Tokelau (population 1,500) in the Pacific declared a national emergency due to an ongoing drought.
Despite the high number of disasters in the region, the number of flash appeals is low. This reflects increasing regional and national disaster management capacity in Asia. An emergency appeal was launched for Sri Lanka in January in response to floods. An appeal was launched for Mindanao in the Philippines in response to Tropical Storm Washi on 22 December. The Philippines was the only Asia-Pacific country to take part in the 2012 Consolidated Appeals Launch in December in Geneva.
The Emergency Relief Coordinator, Valerie Amos, undertook three missions to the region in 2011. She visited Australia, China, DPRK, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.