The wildfires that raged through Northern California this past November were an unwelcome reminder of the potential overwhelmingly destructive power of natural disasters. The fires – which were the most destructive in California’s history – destroyed nearly 14,000 homes. The death toll currently stands at 85.
This devastating event was one of hundreds of natural disasters to occur across the world this year – many of which left even greater carnage in their wake. Throughout 2018, various nations suffered floods, storms, fires, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and heat waves that left death and destruction behind. In addition to the human toll, these weather disasters have caused billions of dollars in economic and infrastructural damage.
Of the more than 200 natural disasters in 2018 reported by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disaster (CRED) – a Brussels-based organization that maintains a global database of natural and technological disasters – 17 resulted in more than 100 fatalities.
Of these, eight were floods. Asia is the most flood-prone area, and, accordingly, had the most flooding and most flood-related deaths this year. Affected countries included India, Japan, North Korea, China, and Laos. The Indian state of Kerala experienced particularly devastating floods this August. The floods – reported by “The Indian Express” as being the worst to hit the state in a century – came at the height of monsoon season and left 361 dead and over 5 million displaced or otherwise affected, according to CRED.
This year’s worst earthquakes have been even more destructive. The Southeast Asian nation of Indonesia has had a particularly difficult year, suffering through multiple earthquakes and their resulting aftershocks. The worst of these was a magnitude 7.5 quake that hit the province of Central Sulawesi. The earthquake, along with the subsequent tsunami, caused the deaths of 2,783 people.