Part II - Natural hazards and disasters: Distribution and frequencies
The analysis of the natural hazards in the region shows that
there are a great variety of natural phenomena that have a great destructive
potential. The hydro-meteorological phenomena (cyclones, floods, and droughts)
largely dominate. All the 7 countries studied considered as a whole
were above all affected by cyclones (up to 60% of the 700 events recorded
between 1900 and 1996) and more than 25% of the events are floods.
The other events show much lower frequencies, always less than 5%. In
comparison with the other phenomena, there are many more deaths and affected
people registered for floods and cyclones; approximately 95% of the deaths and
affected people result from these two destructive phenomena.
According to the nature and variety of the hazards, three
country groups have been distinguished:
* The Philippines and Bangladesh
These two countries both have a very high degree of exposure to
various hazards but show notable differences. Bangladesh is affected almost only
by hydro-meteorological phenomena (cyclones, floods, and droughts), while
different hazard types including earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions are
potentially present in the Philippines.
* Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos
Myanmar, Vietnam and to a certain extent Laos are affected by
the majority of hydro-meteorological and induced (mass movements) phenomena and
have a potentially high degree of exposure though lower than that for the above
mentioned group of countries. The earthquake threat is small in all the
countries except Myanmar. The threat of volcanic activity does not exist.
* Thailand and Cambodia
The principal danger in these countries is flooding.
A comparison between the potentialities of the different
natural hazards and events that have occurred during the century shows that
there is a strong correlation between the two, even though some phenomena
like earthquakes, floods and droughts are likely to be more frequent and more a
plague for certain countries than was reported during the previous times (for
example Laos and particularly Cambodia).
On the other hand, some more significant distortions appear
in comparing the frequency maps, number of deaths and affected people. The
most obvious distortions have been observed in the Philippines and Bangladesh.
There are a more significant number of disasters in the Philippines, but
proportionally many more deaths and affected people in Bangladesh.
Besides the physical component, the above facts highlight the
importance of the human factor and