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Quakes were biggest disaster killers of decade: UN

world Updated: Jan 28, 2010 20:59 IST

Earthquakes triggered the deadliest disasters of the past decade and remain a major threat for millions of people worldwide who live in some of the world's mega-cities, the United Nations said on Thursday.

A study said nearly 60 per cent of about 780,000 people killed by disasters in 2000-2009 died during earthquakes.

But climate events affected far more people -- nearly three quarters of the two billion hit by catastrophes.

Storms accounted for 22 per cent of the overall death toll while extreme temperatures claimed 11 percent of lives lost in 3,852 disasters over the period.

Officials and researchers also maintained their alarm over climate or weather-related disasters as the overall number of catastrophes more than doubled compared to the previous decade.

The global bill for disasters reached $960 billion according to the study by the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at Belgium's Catholic University of Louvain.

"Earthquakes are the deadliest natural hazard of the past 10 years and remain a serious threat for millions of people worldwide as eight out of the 10 most populous cities in the world are on earthquake fault-lines," said Margareta Wahlstroem, UN Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction.