Disaster

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Etymology

Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French desastre, from Old Italian disastro, from dis- (from Latin) + astro star, from Latin astrum - f. des-, DIS- + astre ‘a starre, a Planet;

Definitions

  • 1 obsolete : an unfavorable aspect of a planet or star
  • 2 : a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction; broadly : a sudden or great misfortune or failure <the party was a disaster>

For lessons on the related topic of Catastrophism, follow this link.

Description

A disaster is the tragedy of a natural or human-made hazard (a hazard is a situation which poses a level of threat to life, health, property, or environment) that negatively affects society or 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.

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.

A disaster can be defined as any tragic event with great loss stemming from events such as earthquakes, floods, catastrophic accidents, fires, or explosions.[1]