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Natural disasters ‘have inflicted $28.29b losses’

Major natural disasters since 1947 have inflicted losses worth $28.29 billion on Pakistan, besides claiming 112,464 lives, according to an audit report.

The report was compiled by the Auditor General of Pakistan on relief activities carried out by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) after an earthquake on October 26, 2015.

Pakistan ranks sixth on the Climate Risk Index (CRI) 2015 among the countries most vulnerable to natural disasters such as avalanches, cyclones, storms, droughts, earthquake, epidemics and floods.

Over the past seven decades, earthquakes and floods took the heaviest toll in terms of human lives and property damage, said the audit report. Earthquakes, it added, claimed the highest number of lives while floods caused huge losses to the national exchequer.

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Citing data from the International Disaster Database, the report showed that 28 major earthquakes had occurred in Pakistan over the past 61 years, claiming 79,727 lives. Additionally, earthquakes had also caused a loss of $5.3 billion to the economy since 1947, it added.

Meanwhile, Pakistan experienced floods 84 times, claiming 16,759 lives and rendering 4,234,415 people homeless, according to the report. Floods caused a loss of $21 billion to the national exchequer.

Over the same period, storms killed 11,935 people and caused a loss of $1.7billion to the economy, it said.

Extreme temperatures claimed 2,774 lives while 780 people were killed in landslides, also causing $18 million losses, said the report. Droughts claimed 142 lives and losses of $247 million.

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A senior official working closely with the disaster management authority said: “Pakistan faced numerous natural calamities since 1947… the country is still struggling to cope with such untoward situations.”

He believes the government’s ‘indifference’ is a major factor behind the disasters. Giving reason, he said despite experiencing devastating floods, the country still lacked a comprehensive national flood protection plan.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) is still waiting to be equipped with latest weather forecasting equipment.

Wasif, Sehrish. Natural disasters ‘have inflicted $28.29b losses’. The Express Tribune, October 15, 2017.

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