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What Are Natural Disasters and How Do We Avoid Them?

We live in a world affected by many external influences, among which are natural disasters. Every year, many natural disasters occur. They often have a negative impact because they lead to destruction and threaten some people's lives. In addition, several have shown the ability to destroy the environment and make it unlivable.

By Zahraa Wifaq

Despite the attempts of many scientists to predict these natural disasters, many documented in history were challenging to predict. The most important natural disasters are volcanoes, earthquakes, and floods. There are four stages to the eruption of a volcano: the earthquake, eruption of lava, expulsion of lava through the volcano's crater, and finally, the release of ash clouds. There are three types of volcanoes:

  • Active volcanoes are volcanoes that can still erupt.

  • Dormant volcanoes are volcanoes that have not erupted for a long time but may still do so later.

  • Extinct volcanoes are volcanoes that scientists believe will not erupt again.

Another type of natural disaster is earthquakes, recognized as events that lead to the intense shaking of the Earth's surface. Movements in Earth's outermost layer cause the shaking, and stages of an earthquake include plate movement, an energy impulse, and Earth surface vibration. Finally, floods usually form after a long period of heavy rain or when a large amount of snow melts. Flooding occurs when the soil cannot absorb all the water that passes through it, and the water passes in large quantities that rivers, streams, and water channels cannot carry, resulting in overflows from its sides.

Many natural disasters have devastated communities, and here are some of the most deadly disasters recorded in history. For example, the 2010 Haiti earthquake was estimated to have a magnitude of 7.0 and killed 230,000 people. That number of deaths was adjusted to 310,000 in January 2011. A study conducted in 2010 estimated the actual number of fatalities at about 160,000 cases, while the US Agency for International Development claimed that the number of dead ranged between 46,000 to 85,000 people. Thus, we see that these different statistics and various studies reflect the difficulty of counting deaths even in the modern era.

Credit: Reginald Louissaint, Jr. Getty Images

The flooding of the Yangtze River in China was another disastrous event. This river is considered one of the longest rivers in China and Asia, and the third-longest river in the world after the Nile River in Africa and the Amazon River in South America, with a length of 6300 km. In 1931, this river caused the worst natural disaster due to the high level of its water, as the water flooded all the nearby areas, forcing millions of residents to leave their homes and high the migration rate. Moreover, within a few months, this disaster claimed the lives of millions. This was due to the flood and the famine that occurred due to the spoilage of rice crops. Lastly, the Mount Scaptar eruption was another devastating event in human history. This mountain is located in Iceland and is one of the famous volcanoes that caused disasters. It erupted in 1783 and caused the elimination of agriculture and fishing. Furthermore, this event caused a famine that killed about a quarter of the population.

How can we avoid natural disasters?

  • Reside in safe places and not live in areas prone to natural disasters.

  • Prepare for the disasters to reduce losses as much as possible, such as allocating safe places and practicing evacuation drills.

  • Educating people about how to act during a natural disaster, how to deal with it, and training them on first aid.

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