Philippines 'third most-disaster prone country'

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011


THE Philippines placed third among countries in the world most frequently pummeled by natural calamities last year, a report from a non-government disaster monitoring agency said Tuesday.

Citing records of the Belgium-based Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (Cred), the Citizens' Disaster Response Center said the Philippines was hit 14 times by natural disasters last year, behind India and China.

However, this number was down by as much as 46 percent compared to the 2009 data -- from 26 (year 2009) to 14 (year 2010). The Philippines used to top the list in 2009, when the country was visited by disastrous storms Ondoy and Pepeng.

In late September 2009, Tropical Storm Ondoy lashed parts of Luzon, bringing unprecedented rains. Ondoy was shortly followed by Typhoon Pepeng.

The combined effects of the two typhoons resulted in widespread flooding that left a trail of destruction worth P50 billion and killed 1,000 people.

In the same report, the Philippines ranked fifth in the list of countries most affected by natural disasters in 2010 with 3.9 million people affected.

On the other hand, China topped the list with 145 million people affected. In 2009, the Philippines placed second on that list, with 13.6 million people affected.

CDRC is a partner of Cred, a World Health Organization collaborating center based in Brussels, Belgium, which maintains the Emergency Events Database.

CDRC executive director Carlos Padolina, however, said the total number of disaster occurrence in 2010 will reach 202 if man-made disasters such as armed conflicts are included.

This was a slight increase from the previous year's 191. These resulted in death toll of 239 people, displaced 1.29 families or 6.75 million people, and caused over P25 billion in economic damages.

But Padolina admitted that human impact was indeed lower last year even if natural and human-induced disasters were combined, with only 6.75 million persons affected compared to the 13.6 million in 2009.

This is a 50 percent decrease from the 2009 figures, primarily because the country did not experience disasters as destructive as Ondoy and Pepeng, the CDRC said.

Padolina said despite the obvious decrease in disaster figures last year, the challenge to be stricken from the top 10 list of countries most affected by natural disasters still remains.

"We shouldn't be content with just a slight decrease in the number of affected population. We should in fact strive to be taken off the list completely," Padolina said. "And we can do this by being prepared." (Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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