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EEA Publishes Report on Natural Hazards and Technological Accidents in Europe

12 January 2011: The European Environment Agency (EEA) has released a report titled "Mapping the impacts of natural hazards and technological accidents in Europe," which analyzes impacts of three types of hazards: hydrometeorological or weather related, such as storms, extreme temperature events, forest fires, droughts and floods; geophysical, including snow avalanches, landslides, earthquakes and volcanoes; and technological, such as oil spills, industrial accidents and toxic spills from mining activities.

The report shows that the number and impacts of disasters in Europe have increased over the period 1998-2009, causing nearly 100,000 fatalities and economic losses of about 150 billion Euro. The report states that the increase in losses can be explained to a large extent by higher levels of human activity and accumulation of economic assets in hazard-prone areas, but also, to a smaller extent, by better reporting. It further notes that, while it is impossible to determine accurately which share of the losses is attributable to climate change, such losses are likely to increase in the future, since the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events are projected to increase.

Other findings include: extreme temperatures caused the highest number of human fatalities with more than 70,000 excess deaths; flooding and storms led to the highest economic losses, totaling 96 billion Euros; and technological accidents, such as oil and toxic waste spills, caused the most severe ecosystem impacts. The report concludes that more efforts are needed to implement an integrated risk management approach that includes prevention, preparedness, response and recovery for all hazards across Europe, and calls for establishing more comprehensive information systems to improve analysis and assessment of impacts. [EEA Press Release] [The Report]