From Charles Kenny’s paper, "Why Do People Die in Earthquakes?":
There is absolutely no overlap between the top twenty most costly insured disasters worldwide
1970-2005 and the top twenty worst catastrophes in terms of lives lost. All of the most costly
events in terms of property damage hit wealthy countries (where the density of economic activity
is higher), all of the most deadly hit developing countries. In addition, eighteen out of twenty of
the most costly were hurricanes, typhoons and storms, eleven out of twenty of the most deadly
were earthquakes. Why is this? Earthquake deaths in particular can be
prevented by engineering approaches that are widely applied in wealthy countries but rare in the
developing world. It is more difficult to comprehensively prevent flood and wind damage using
In all of the developing world, there are much cheaper ways of saving lives than trying to make buildings more earthquake-proof. But that just means we should spend much more effort trying to find cheap and reliable ways of strengthening buildings.
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