What is Disaster?

A disaster is an event that causes mass deaths of human beings, animals, damage of property or industry. Disasters results in permanent changes to ecosystems and the environment. Disasters are generally hazardous, expose vulnerable conditions and limit the possibility of survival.


Disasters may be natural or man-made. Natural disasters occur without the direct involvement of human. Natural disasters are commonly called the acts of God. Human activity may trigger natural disasters. The effects of a disaster may also be increased by human intervention or ignorance during or after the disaster.

One natural disaster may lead to another disaster reducing the chances of survival. For instance, a volcano may cause fires, landslides, earthquakes or tsunamis.

Natural disasters include: Earthquake, Famine, Drought, Flood, Thunderstorm, Tornado, Tsunami, Fire, Hurricane, Avalanche, Cold, Disease, Storm surge, Volcanic eruption, Hail, Heat, Impact event, Limnic eruption, Landslide, Mudslide, Sink hole, Solar flare, Waterspout, and Winter storm.

A man-made disaster has an element of human intent or negligence. It can be caused by human error or may involve the failure of a system. Man-made disasters can be prevented or minimized.

Man-made disasters include: Arson, Power outage, Public relations crisis, Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear, Civil disorder, Liquidity shortage, Radiation Contamination, Crime, Data loss, Processing interruption, Dam failure, Hazardous materials, Telecommunication outage, Terrorism, and War.

Disasters are also categorized in terms of their spatial extent. A tornado is likely to be fairly local in its effects. Other disasters like an earthquake may have a global effect.

Early intervention by people, communities or government may increase the chances of survival. Sufficient preparation can be provided to mitigate the damage caused by disasters.

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