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CRED defines a disaster as a "situation or event, which overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to national or international level for external assistance (definition considered in EM-DAT); an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction and human suffering". For a disaster to be entered into the database at least one of the following criteria must be fulfilled:
* 10 or more people reported killed
* 100 people reported affected
* Declaration of a state of emergency
* Call for international assistance
* Hydro-meteorological disasters: including floods and wave surges, storms, droughts and related disasters (extreme temperatures and forest/scrub fires), and landslides & avalanches;
* Geophysical disasters: divided into earthquakes & tsunamis and volcanic eruptions;
* Biological disasters: covering epidemics and insect infestations.
"As for famines, which are neither natural nor technological disasters, they have not been considered in this analysis."
"Data can also be skewed because of the rationale behind data gathering. Reinsurance companies, for instance, systematically gather data on disaster occurrence in order to assess insurance risk, but with a priority in areas of the world where disaster insurance is widespread. Their data may therefore miss out poor disaster-affected regions where insurance is unaffordable or unavailable.
For natural disasters during the last decade, data on deaths are missing in about 10 per cent of the disasters; around 20 per cent lack information on the total number of people affected, and about 70 per cent do not cover economic damages. The figures therefore should be regarded as indicative. Relative changes and trends are more useful to look at than absolute, isolated figures."
The source of notes: