Philippines among Asian nations worst hit by disasters in 2012

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines is among Asian countries worst hit by disasters this year, according to a report of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

In a report released in Bangkok this month, the UNISDR said the Philippines had the second most number of disasters in the first 10 months of the year with 16 recorded disasters, next only to China with 18 recorded calamities.

The document covers disasters between January and October and does not include Typhoon "Pablo", which struck Mindanao on December 4 and left more than 1,000 dead and another 800 missing.

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According to the report, the Philippines endured two disasters rated as among the 10 deadliest: the monsoon flooding around Metro Manila and nearby provinces in August, which claimed 116 lives, and the February earthquake in the Visayas, which left 113 dead. It said 6.2 million Filipinos were affected by floods, quakes and other calamities.

Pakistan suffered the worst loss of lives during the period with 480 deaths.

North Korea, which was hit by severe flooding in July, topped the count with 13.3 million affected residents while Sri Lanka, which suffered quakes and storms this year, had 8.6 million people exposed to disasters.

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A total of 83 disasters hit Asia from January to October of this year, leaving some 3,103 people killed and some $15.1 billion in damages. About 64.5 million people were affected by these disasters across the region.

The UNISDR said Asia accounted for more than half the total disaster-related deaths in the world, 74 per cent of affected people and a third of the economic toll due to natural calamities in the first 10 months of the year.

There were fewer disasters this year than the annual average of 136 in the last decade, but the reduction should not be "a cause for complacency" as the economic cost of calamities continues to rise, said UNISDR Asia Pacific head Jerry Velasquez.

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"We must still contend with the fact that risk is growing faster than wealth is being created. Exposure is on the rise and flooding represents a serious challenge to Asian cities as we have seen earlier this year in Beijing and Manila where these two cities were partly flooded in a couple of hours," Velasquez said in a statement.

"Flood risk must be addressed in a more systematic manner and integrated in all urban and development management plans if we want to ensure sustainable economic growth and better protect people and their assets as extreme weather events will be more frequent and severe in the future," Velasquez said.

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