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A disaster is a perceived tragedy, being either a natural calamity or man-made catastrophe. It is a hazard which has comes to fruition. A hazard, in turn, is a situation which poses a level of threat to life, health, property, or that may deleteriously affect society or an environment. In contemporary academia, disasters are seen as the consequence of inappropriately managed risk. These risks are the product of hazards and vulnerability. Hazards that strike in areas with low vulnerability are not considered a disaster, as is the case in uninhabited regions.[1] Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by disasters occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural disasters are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.[2] A disaster can be defined as any tragic event with great loss stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions.


The word derives from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad"[3] + ἀστήρ (aster), "star".[4] The root of the word disaster ("bad star" in Greek) comes from an astrological theme in which the ancients used to refer to the destruction or deconstruction of a star as a disaster.


For more than a century researchers have been studying disasters and for more than forty years disaster research has been institutionalized through the Disaster Research Center. The studies reflect a common opinion when they argue that all disasters can be seen as being human-made, their reasoning being that human actions before the strike of the hazard can prevent it developing into a disaster. All disasters are hence the result of human failure to introduce appropriate disaster management measures.[5] Hazards are routinely divided into natural or human-made, although complex disasters, where there is no single root cause, are more common in developing countries. A specific disaster may spawn a secondary disaster that increases the impact. A classic example is an earthquake that causes a tsunami, resulting in coastal flooding.

Natural disasterEdit

Main article: Natural disaster

A natural disaster is a consequence when a natural hazard (e.g., volcanic eruption or earthquake) affects humans and/or the built environment. Human vulnerability, caused by the lack of appropriate emergency management, leads to financial, environmental, or human impact. The resulting loss depends on the capacity of the population to support or resist the disaster: their resilience. This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: "disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability". A natural hazard will hence never result in a natural disaster in areas without vulnerability, e.g., strong earthquakes in uninhabited areas.

Man-made disasterEdit

Disasters caused by human action, negligence, error, or involving the failure of a system are called man-made disasters. Man-made disasters are in turn categorized as technological or sociological. Technological disasters are the results of failure of technology, such as engineering failures, transport disasters, or environmental disasters. Sociological disasters have a strong human motive, such as criminal acts, stampedes, riots and war. Man-made earthquakes are well documented even though less known by the general public.[6][7]

Disaster managementEdit


Main article: Disaster management

With the tropical climate and unstable landforms, coupled with high population density, poverty, illiteracy and lack of adequate infrastructure, India is one of the most vulnerable developing countries to suffer very often from various natural disasters, namely drought, flood, cyclone, earth quake, landslide, forest fire, hail storm, locust, volcanic eruption, etc. Which strike causing a devastating impact on human life, economy and environment. Though it is almost impossible to fully recoup the damage caused by the disasters, it is possible to (i) minimize the potential risks by developing early warning strategies (ii) prepare and implement developmental plans to provide resilience to such disasters (iii) mobilize resources including communication and telemedicinal services, and (iv) to help in rehabilitation and post-disaster reconstruction. Space technology plays a crucial role in efficient mitigation of disasters. While communication satellites help in disaster warning, relief mobilization and tele-medicinal support, earth observation satellites provide required database for pre-disaster preparedness programmes, disaster response, monitoring activities and post-disaster damage assessment, and reconstruction, and rehabilitation. The article describes the role of space technology in evolving a suitable strategy for disaster preparedness and operational framework for their monitoring, assessment and mitigation, identifies gap areas and recommends appropriate strategies for disaster mitigation vis-à-vis likely developments in space and ground segments. Various disasters like earthquake, landslides, volcanic eruptions, flood and cyclones are natural hazards that kill thousands of people and destroy billions of dollars of habitat and property each year. The rapid growth of the world's population and its increased concentration often in hazardous environment has escalated both the frequency and severity of natural disasters. With the tropical climate and unstable land forms, coupled with deforestation, unplanned growth proliferation non-engineered constructions which make the disaster-prone areas mere vulnerable, tardy communication, poor or no budgetary allocation for disaster prevention, developing countries suffer more or less chronically by natural disasters. Asia tops the list of casualties due to natural disaster. Among various natural hazards, earthquakes, landslides, floods and cyclones are the major disasters adversely affecting very large areas and population in the Indian sub-continent. These natural disasters are of (i) geophysical origin such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, land slides and (ii) climatic origin such as drought, flood, cyclone, locust, forest fire. Though it may not be possible to control nature and to stop the development of natural phenomena but the efforts could be made to avoid disasters and alleviate their effects on human lives, infrastructure and property. Rising frequency, amplitude and number of natural disasters and attendant problem coupled with loss of human lives prompted the General Assembly of the United Nations to proclaim 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) through a resolution 44/236 of December 22, 1989 to focus on all issues related to natural disaster reduction. In spite of IDNDR, there had been a string of major disaster throughout the decade. Nevertheless, by establishing the rich disaster management related traditions and by spreading public awareness the IDNDR provided required stimulus for disaster reduction. It is almost impossible to prevent the occurrence of natural disasters and their damages. However, it is possible to reduce the impact of disasters by adopting suitable disaster mitigation strategies. The disaster mitigation works mainly address the following:

  • minimise the potential risks by developing disaster early warning strategies
  • prepare and implement developmental plans to provide resilience to such disasters,
  • mobilise resources including communication and tele-medicinal services
  • to help in rehabilitation and post-disaster reduction.

Disaster management on the other hand involves

  • pre-disaster planning, preparedness, monitoring including relief management capability
  • prediction and early warning
  • damage assessment and relief management.

Disaster reduction is a systematic work which involves with different regions, different professions and different scientific fields, and has become an important measure for human, society and nature sustainable development.


Main article: Emergency management

The local communities at the time of disaster or before the disaster make groups for helping the people from suffering during the disaster. These groups include, First Aid group, Health group, Food and Welfare group etc. They all are well trained by some local community members. All the groups are sent for helping any other local community that is suffering from a disaster. They also migrate the people from the area affected from disaster to some other safe regions. They are given shelter and every possible facilities by those local management communities. Today, Government is also making effort to provide good facilities during the disaster. In India, in the rural areas, the community(group of families) are choosing a leader and developing their Disaster management skills to protect themselves and other local communities as well. Template:Expand section By Akash Agarwal

See alsoEdit



  1. Quarantelli E.L. (1998). Where We Have Been and Where We Might Go. In: Quarantelli E.L. (ed). What Is A Disaster? London: Routledge. pp146-159
  2. Template:Cite web
  3. Template:Cite web
  4. Template:Cite web
  5. B. Wisner, P. Blaikie, T. Cannon, and I. Davis (2004). At Risk - Natural hazards, people's vulnerability and disasters. Wiltshire: Routledge, ISBN 0-415-25216-4
  6. Dan Oancea: Man-Made Earthquakes
  7. Dan Oancea: Man-Made Earthquakes



  • Barton A.H. (1969). Communities in Disaster. A Sociological Analysis of Collective Stress Situations. SI: Ward Lock
  • Catastrophe and Culture: The Anthropology of Disaster. Susanna M. Hoffman and Anthony Oliver-Smith, Eds.. Santa Fe NM: School of American Research Press, 2002
  • G. Bankoff, G. Frerks, D. Hilhorst (eds.) (2003). Mapping Vulnerability: Disasters, Development and People. ISBN 1-85383-964-7.
  • D. Alexander (2002). Principles of Emergency planning and Management. Harpended: Terra publishing. ISBN 1-903544-10-6.


External linksEdit

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United StatesEdit

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