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Weather's deadly impact: 150,000 Indian lives lost to extreme weather over 51 yrs

India has recorded the second-highest number of deaths from weather-related disasters in Asia. Between 1970 and 2021, 138,377 Indians

By Ground report
New Update
Extreme weather events making the year 2023 more deadly

India has recorded the second-highest number of deaths from weather-related disasters in Asia. Between 1970 and 2021, 138,377 Indians lost their lives in 573 weather-related events, according to a recent analysis by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Bangladesh ranked first in Asia with 520,758 deaths in 281 events during the same period. Myanmar ranked third with 138,366 casualties, mainly due to the devastating Cyclone Nargis in 2008. China ranked fourth with 88,457 deaths caused by 740 events, with a significant portion of these deaths due to a flood in 1975.

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Indian lives lost to extreme weather

Climate and Water-Related Hazards

These figures were published as part of the updated WMO data in the Atlas of Mortality and Economic Loss from Weather, Climate and Water-Related Hazards.

The report highlights the devastating impact of extreme weather events, climate-related disasters and water-related hazards, resulting in 11,778 reported disasters between 1970 and 2021, resulting in more than 2 million deaths and economic losses worth $4.3 trillion worldwide. Developing countries accounted for more than 90% of the number of recorded deaths.

Asia reported the highest number of weather, climate and water-related disasters (3,612), with tropical cyclones being the leading cause of reported deaths. The continent suffered 984,263 deaths, representing 47% of all deaths globally, and incurred $1.4 trillion in economic losses.

North America, Central America and the Caribbean ranked second in the number of extreme weather events (2,107), resulting in 77,454 deaths and $2 trillion in economic losses.

Deaths and economic losses in each region due to weather

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Region Deaths Economic Losses (in billions)
Africa 733,585 $43.0
Europe 166,492 $562.0
South-West Pacific 66,951 $185.8
South America 58,484 $115.2
The figures provided represent reported deaths and economic losses in each region due to weather, weather, and water-related hazards between 1970 and 2021.

Weather Disasters: Impacts and Costs

The updated figures were compiled as part of the WMO Atlas of Mortality and Economic Loss from Extreme Weather, Climate and Water Events, which is based on the previous edition covering the period 1970 to 2019.

Regional breakdowns revealed variable impacts. Africa witnessed 1,839 disasters, predominantly drought-related, resulting in 733,585 deaths and economic losses totalling US$43 billion.

Asia reported the highest number of disasters (3,612), with tropical cyclones being the leading cause of death, contributing to 984,263 deaths and US$1.4 trillion in economic losses.

Region Disasters Deaths Economic Losses (in US$)
Africa 1,839 733,585 43 billion
Asia 3,612 984,263 1.4 trillion
South America 943 58,484 115.2 billion
North America, Central America, and the Caribbean 2,107 77,454 2.0 trillion
South West Pacific 1,493 66,951 185.8 billion
Europe 1,784 166,492 562 billion
The economic losses reported in the table are in billions or trillions of US dollars.

The report emphasizes that the economic losses attributed to weather-related disasters occurred predominantly in developed economies, but these losses represented less than 0.1% of their respective gross domestic products in most cases.

The least developed countries experienced disasters with economic losses equivalent to more than 5 percent of their GDP, while small island developing States experienced losses exceeding 100 percent of their GDP in some cases.

Early Warnings For All

The WMO emphasizes that the most vulnerable communities are the most affected by these hazards. To address this issue, the World Meteorological Congress is holding a quadrennial session, focused on the international campaign to ensure universal protection through early warning systems by the end of 2027.

Although mortality rates have decreased due to early warnings, WMO Secretary-General Petteri Taalas acknowledges that the impact of weather, climate and water-related hazards remains significant.

He praises the effectiveness of early warnings in reducing death rates, citing the example of the severe cyclone Mocha that wreaked devastation in Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Early warnings and improved disaster management have played a crucial role in mitigating the catastrophic numbers of deaths witnessed in the past.

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