THE environmental disasters which pose the greatest threat to Spain are drought, earthquake and floods, a UN report revealed.
The report was presented, on the International Day for Disaster Reduction and at a time when the world’s eyes were on underwater volcano activity in El Hierro (Canary Islands).
The study by the UN’s EM-DAT emergency events database assessed the threat levels from natural disasters in 150 countries, evaluating prevention methods and legislation.
Spain was fifth amongst the countries most at risk from drought, with an estimated 8 million people affected by its consequences.
A further 49,000 of Spain’s inhabitants were likely to be affected by earthquakes and 28,000 by flooding.
To avoid these and other natural disasters, it was necessary to ensure that towns and cities were resilient enough to deal with a disaster, said the Interior ministry’s Maria Victoria Eugenia Sanchez.
This could be achieved with prevention, rapid response and adequate reaction, maintained Sanchez, who heads the ministry’s Civil Defence (CP) department.
Spain had experienced 64 natural disasters since 1980, found EM-DAT and CP’s national committee had played a key role in combating them all, Sanchez said.
The worst of these had been the 1990 drought, according to EM-DAT, which affected 6 million people. The second-worst were the floods of August 1983 and October 1982 which together affected the lives of 700,000 people.
The Lorca earthquakes that killed 10 people in May this year were placed fifth, which calculated that they had affected a total of 15,000 people in the Murcia region.
Photo credit: Israel Sánchez
By Annie Maples