Natural and Man-made Disasters
• When the disasters are due to carelessness of human or mishandling of dangerous equipment’s they are called man-made disasters. Man-made disasters are either intentional or accidental. They cause severe threats to public health and well-being. Their occurrence is unpredictable and poses a challenging threat. They must be dealt through vigilance, proper planning and response.
• A nuclear, biological, or chemical weapon, which is able to cause widespread devastation and loss of life, is known as a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD).
• Nuclear weapons can be classified as atomic bombs and hydrogen bombs. Countries that have declared the possession of nuclear weapons and have tested them are China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, United Kingdom, United States of America and North Korea.
• There have been some disasters in the nuclear reactors in some places. One such disaster was the Chernobyl disaster. The disaster began during a systems test on 26 April 1986 at reactor 4 of the Chernobyl plant near Pripyat in Ukraine, then part of the former Soviet Union. It is considered as the worst nuclear power plant disaster in the history. Chernobyl disaster resulted into severe release of radioactivity. Most of the deaths were caused by radiation poisoning.
• The first atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan on 6th August, 1945. More than 10 sq miles of the city got instantly devastated. Around 66,000 people were killed and 69,000 injured. On 9th August, another atom bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. This bomb destroyed one third of the city instantly. More than 39,000 people were killed and 25,000 were injured in this disaster.
• Chemicals can also be hazardous to humans and the environment. Simple chemicals can be used to manufacture disastrous chemical weapons. Chemical accidents can be rapid and sudden without any warning.
• Mitigation strategies for human-induced disasters can be classified under four headings. These are:
a. Hazard Mapping
b. Land Use Planning
c. Community Preparedness, and
d. Other Risk Reduction Measures
• Biological weapons are also known as ‘poor man’s nuclear bomb’. They spread disease causing micro-organisms, which have the ability to kill or injure numerous people. Biological weapons use pathogens or organisms that cause disease. Pathogens include bacteria, viruses, fungi, and toxins. Biological weapon delivery systems can take a variety of forms. A number of programmes also designed spray-tanks to be fitted to aircraft, cars, trucks, and boats.
• Accidental disasters are caused by human error and are most costly in terms of loss of life and property. Some common accidental disasters are rail accidents, road accidents, shipwrecks, air crashes, and breakout of fire in civil areas. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), more than 337 million accidents happen on the job each year, resulting, together with occupational diseases, in more than 2.3 million deaths annually. In 2013, 54 million people sustained injuries from traffic collisions. This resulted in 1.4 million deaths in 2013.
• Man-made hazards typically cost the most in terms of human suffering, loss of life and long-term damage to a country's economy and productive capacity.