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Types of disasters

Vademecum - Civil Protection

Natural and man made disasters

Disasters fit into two broad categories. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, hurricanes, and tsunamis are caused by natural events. Disasters such as chemical spills, industrial accidents, marine pollution, war and terrorist attacks are the result of human activity. Floods, forest fires and avalanches are generally considered natural disasters. Many disasters produce complex knock-on effects and may lead to situations falling into several categories.

Disasters in Europe

The overwhelming majority of disasters occurring in Europe are directly linked to weather and climate extremes. Disasters cause significant human suffering and loss of lives.

The economic cost of natural and man-made disasters is estimated to be around €15 billion a year for the European economy.

Disasters have significant environmental impacts. Extreme storms and fires can destroy large tracks of forests and other natural habitats, thus affecting the plants and animal species in their path. Floods can cause toxic substances found in the soil to infiltrate water aquifers, earthquakes can trigger fires and explosions, and droughts can seriously deteriorate the quality of water. Likewise, Oil spills and accidental discharges of hazardous waste can seriously damage valuable ecosystems.