Ravi Gupta

When we set the calendar of themes annually for the forthcoming year, we have the inclination of keeping disaster management as a theme for October, owing to the International Day of Disaster Reduction being in this month. However, things have come to such an extent that every month there arises a reason for publishing something on this account. This is primarily because disasters, be it natural or man-made, have become commonplace. Let me elaborate.

In the wake of the global events, 2005 can easily qualify as an year of disasters. January saw a stampede at a Hindu procession to the Mandhara Devi Shrine in India killing 250 and injuring 200. In February, the most noticed happenings were, heavy flooding from snow and rain in Pakistan, killing more than 460 people and the earthquake in central Iran of magnitude 6.4, killing at least 612 people, injuring over 1,400. During March, in Indonesia, an earthquake of magnitude 8.7, hit the west coast of Sumatra, killing 1313 on the islands of Nias and Simeulue.

With the coming of June and monsoons, widespread flooding across the world was witnessed; particularly one in southern China killed 536. In July, four bombs exploded, three in a subway station and one on a double-decker bus in UK, during the morning rush hour, which killed 56 and wounded more than 700. Later in the month a record 94 cm of rain fell in Mumbai, India within a span of 24 hours, followed by a week of relentless monsoon rains bringing the entire city to a standstill. The casualty figures are still un-estimated. No later, Gorakhpur district in India witnessed a deadly encephalitis attack. The wrath of Mother Nature and mankind on himself continues…

In the last week of august, Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating to hit the U.S., destroyed a long stretch of the southeastern cost near New Orleans with reaching speeds in excess of 200 kmph. The winds and massive flooding left thousands homeless. As of September 22, the death toll had reached 1033. The exact number of fatalities and the amount of damages are unknown.

The cases and stories seem unending, and none know what lies in store tomorrow. The documentation about disasters by hundreds of agencies and departments across the world is very efficient. But it’s only documentation…. The world still moves on – ignorant, unprepared, ambitious, and busy. Shall there ever be a way to be ‘prepared’?

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