Home >Politics >Policy >Natural disasters kill over 20,000 in 2014

New Delhi: At least 55 people died every day due to natural calamities such as lightning, heatwaves, landslides, earthquakes and cyclones in 2014.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Union home ministry, 20,201 people died in natural calamities last year. Nearly 24% of the deaths were from lightning, extreme heat and cold, the top three causes, says the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India-2014 report by the NCRB.

The number, however, has dropped when compared with 2013, when a total of 22,759 such deaths were reported.

Of the 20,201 deaths in 2014, 12.8% (2,582) were due to lightning, 6.2% (1,248) due to heat and sun stroke, and 4.5% (913) due to exposure to extreme cold.

While deaths due to lightning and cold exposure decreased in 2014 compared to 2013, deaths due to heat stroke increased from 1,216 in 2013 to 1,248 in 2014.

Interestingly, lightning strikes were the reason for all accidental deaths due to natural causes in Goa and Tamil Nadu. It was also the main cause of deaths due to natural causes across the nation.

Experts said India needs to have a comprehensive action plan to cut fatalities due to exposure to heatwaves. More than 2,000 people died in the heatwave in May and June this year.

“There is a need for cities to have comprehensive action plans for heatwaves. There needs to be a mechanism to put out early morning warning messages, capacity building and infrastructure. For instance, Ahmedabad has a heat action plan," said Arjuna Srinidhi, programme manager (climate change) at Centre for Science and Environment, an environmental non-governmental organization.

“In the heatwave of 2015, which was not as strong in terms of duration or severity compared to the 2010 heatwave, more people died.

Construction workers and labourers are most affected and suffer dehydration, with increasing number of cement constructions creating heat islands in urban areas," Srinidhi said.

According to the NCRB report, 52% (10,499) of victims who died due to natural calamities were in the 18-45 age group.

Among the 53 mega cities, deaths due to natural calamities were highest in Ahmedabad (2,170), followed by Rajkot (858) and Hyderabad (346). These are cities with a population of 1 million or more.

According to the data, 4,508 such deaths in 2014 were reported from the 53 mega cities, an increase of 71.4% compared to the 2,630 deaths in 2013.

The NCRB report states that the number of deaths due to natural calamities in India has been steadily decreasing from 25,066 in 2010.

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