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  • Oct 24, 2014
  • Updated: 6:30pm
NewsHong Kong

Pearl Delta at high risk in event of natural disaster, says insurer

PRD is the third riskiest urban community in the world in terms of the population that would be affected by natural catastrophes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 September, 2013, 6:18pm
UPDATED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 2:36am
 

The Pearl River Delta is one of world's most vulnerable urban areas because of the large number of people who could be affected by natural disasters, according to a report published on Wednesday by the Swiss Reinsurance Company.

Guangdong’s Pearl River Delta is the third riskiest urban community in the world in terms of the population that would be affected by natural catastrophes, noted the Mind the Risk report, which was Swiss Re’s first ranking of cities under threat from disasters.

In the case of the Pearl River Delta, earthquakes are not prevalent, but freshwater floods, storm surges and strong winds are
Peter Hausmann, Swiss Re

“In the case of the Pearl River Delta, earthquakes are not prevalent, but freshwater floods, storm surges and strong winds are,” Peter Hausmann, the head of Swiss Re’s Cat Perils Europe Hub, told the South China Morning Post.

For the survey, the reinsurance group analysed its data on five catastrophes - earthquakes, storms, coastal storm surges, tsunamis, and river floods - to calculate human exposure to disasters in 616 of the world’s largest urban areas.

The report took into account major risk scenarios that rarely happen in the Pearl River Delta, but when all the disasters are considered a total of 34.5 million people in the delta would be affected, including fatalities, injuries and evacuations, it said.

In the survey, some 42 million residents of Hong Kong, Macau, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Guangzhou are counted as part of the delta, which is most vulnerable to river floods, coastal storm surges and storms.

Earthquake risk in the Pearl River Delta, however, is "almost inexistent" and the probability of a tsunami hitting the area is "relatively low", said the report.

The Japanese metropolitan area of Tokyo-Yokohama topped the list as the riskiest urban community in the world, as disasters could affect some 57.1 million people there.

The Philippine capital of Manila ranked No 2, with 34.6 million people at risk.

Osaka-Kobe, Jakarta, Nagoya, Kolkata, Los Angeles and Tehran are also among the world’s 10 most vulnerable urban communities.

Urban areas in Australia and eastern Latin America and most regions of Africa are relatively safe from natural catastrophes, added the report.

Hong Kong’s deadliest natural disaster in the past century was the Great Typhoon of 1937 on September 2, 1937 when a storm killed 11,000 people.

From 1980 to 2010, 58 natural catastrophes hit the city and an average of 1,649 Hongkongers were affected each year, according to the International Disaster Database.

Because the Pearl River Delta is most vulnerable to storms and coastal storm surges, “regional protection measures like river dykes or seawalls, adequate building standards, evacuation plans and financial measures for the government and the citizens are most important,” Hausmann suggested.

 

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