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Scientists chart global disaster hot spots

The human impact of a natural catastrophe depends greatly on where it happens, disaster officials have long known. In a soon-to-be-published report, scientists have mapped out some of the worst places to live when Mother Nature shows the ugly side of her face.

The maps and analysis were prepared by the Earth Institute at Columbia University for the World Bank, which expects to publish them sometime this winter. The report is designed as a guide for how international investments should be made and a tool for battling calamity before it strikes.

The researchers compiled statistics from the last two decades on natural disasters in three categories: geophysical (earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides), hydro (floods and hurricanes) and drought.

Based on these factors, they mapped out hot spots of risk.

“The notable feature of the maps is that there are small countries that get pummeled,” the Earth Institute’s Arthur Lerner-Lam told LiveScience. Places like Honduras, Guatemala, and the Philippines are some of the riskiest.