Why Some Hazards Have Resulted In More Loss Of Life Than Others Essay Sample

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A hazardous event can incorporate many different Physical and Human disasters however for this specific essay I will be concentrating on Physical events only although it should not be forgotten that this question could lead to Human events too. It should also not be forgotten that loss of life doesn’t just apply to humans however for this essay I will be concentrating on human life as animal life is not as widely documented to an accurate degree. A hazardous event is dictionary defined as, “A chance of being injured or harmed” However in this instance it could be defined as an event that happens which causes loss of life or endangers life of others.

For this essay I will be looking at four specific case studies, each covering a different type of Hazardous Event and considering the amount of human life that was lost.

For my first case study I will be looking at the volcanic eruption of Mount St. Helens and how the hazard affected the death toll. I chose this study as it affects a MEDC. For my second case study I shall be considering the effects of an earthquake in the city of Bam and how it affected the population there. I chose this case study as it focuses on an LEDC

For my penultimate case study I will be looking at flooding in Bangladesh, and how this hazardous event has impacted on the population. I decided on using this case study as it is from an LEDC. For my final case study I will be examining a recent hazardous event, hurricane Ike, which struck America earlier this month. I chose this case study as it was recent and focused on an MEDC

My first case study looks at a physical event that occurred in America in 1980. It studies a hazard from the Earth Systems module. Mt. St Helens is a volcano located in the state of Washington. This event was caused by a series of small earthquakes which resulted in magma moving and swelling, along with numerous amounts of steam, to form a bulge on the north side of the volcano. Eventually on May the 18th, 1980 the north side gave way and the bulge collapsed.

57 people were instantly killed by pyroclastic flows and lahars, falling ash also contributed to the death toll. This was a short term impact as the population decreased quickly. Over 200 homes were destroyed by mud flows, falling ash and debris, and smoke damage. This then added to the death toll.

Power supplies were cut off and that got into fresh water supplies. Consequently, this then led to contamination of the water and the spread of disease causing more people to die.

Regarding this particular case study, it shows relatively low death levels due to a few factors. The major factor is the fact that viable warning systems were in place at the time and people expected a disaster and so was on edge. The fact that people were anticipating and had time prepare for an eruption reduced the death count as did the time of day. More people would have died if the collapsed dome occurred at night when they were all in bed; however the area was relatively clear as most had gone to work.

Moving onto my second case study. This looks at the events in Bam, the ancient historic city in Iran, which was hit by an earthquake measuring 6.6 on the Richter scale on December 26th, 2003 resulting in the deaths of over 43,000 people and leaving over 60,000 people homeless.

Many of the mud-brick buildings in Bam collapsed instantly resulting in the high loss of life. The mud-brick disintegrates easily into rubble, making rescue difficult and hopes of survival low. The survivors had not only lost friends and family, but their homes and everything else they had. Many were left destitute on the streets, some forced to spend the cold nights wrapped in blankets; whilst some were given tents, others made use of any shelter they could find. 90% of the

buildings in the ancient citadel were

completed destroyed.

My third case study is considering amount of life lost in another LEDC after flooding in Bangladesh, 1998.

Between July and September 1998, Bangladesh suffered one of its worse ever floods. Despite being flooding being common in this country, the floods of 1998 were particularly severe. Bangladesh receives large amounts of water passing through it with two major rivers (the Ganges and Brahmaputra) converging and forming a huge delta formed from silt deposited by the river as it enters the sea. Both rivers have large volumes of water flowing through them to the sea as they have large drainage basins which increasing the flood risk.

1,070 people died during the floods. This death toll resulted from a number of things. As well as people being killed by drowning in the flood waters, health problems increased the number of deaths further. Contamination of water by waste and dead bodies / animals, and the lack of a clean water supply resulted in the spread of disease such as cholera and typhoid. Further deaths from snake bites and other injuries which led to death through the lack of access to medical care.

My final case study looks at the recent hazardous hurricane, Hurricane Ike, in America, 2008. Hurricane Ike started as a tropical disturbance off the coast of Africa near the end of August then tracked south of Cape Verde and slowly developed. On September 1, it became a tropical storm west of the Cape Verde islands.

Hurricane Ike was tracked through four different countries. Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba and the US. The main areas affected include the Turks and Caicos, Bahamas, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Florida Keys, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi Valley, and the Ohio Valley.

Effects from this disaster include the deaths of 177 people and 95 % of housing was damaged in some way. Millions of people were left homeless by the storm yet the increase in technology and warning led to the fact that the path was predictable and so damage to property and impacts on the loss of life could be reduced. Less people were killed as homes and structures are far more reliable in this MEDC than those in an LEDC. This disaster also had a relatively large build up, again allowing people to be prepared and not be caught unawares.

To make an overall assessment on the view that some hazards result in more loss of life than others is simple if only the four case studies I have assessed were taken into account. If this was the case then can safely come to the conclusion that the trend seems to be that most life is lost in an LEDC in comparison to disaster in an MEDC

This could be caused however due to the fact I have only examined four case studies. If more studies in different criteria’s were used a different result may prevail, however in my opinion main factors which affect the amount of death are:

How heavily the areas are populated and the quality of buildings there along with the time of day of the disaster and the time of year of the disaster. These two play a huge role in deciding the amount of life lost. If a disaster occurred at night when most people are in bed more life would be lost as opposed to a disaster that struck at midday when everyone is at work.

This could however change in the future as spatial issues may show. Technology and building techniques are forever increasing, this increase and progress in technology may in the future lead to the reduction of impact caused by hazardous events as scientists may be able to predict events and take necessary precautions effectively. However at this moment in time, my view is that disasters which occur in LEDC’s result in more loss of life than those which occur in an MEDC.

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