Natural disasters are natural events that cause the loss of lives and property.
Sometimes hundreds and thousands are killed, and millions of dollars of property
are destroyed. What are these events and what causes them ?
The earth is a
dynamic entity that is undergoing changes all the time. Normal changes such as
those occurring to the weather and the seasons are part
and parcel of living. We live our lives according to these changes
regardless of whether we like it or not. However, sometimes the forces of nature
cause great and drastic changes, and for us puny
human beings, the effect can be disastrous.
There are many types of natural events that can spell disaster for us. They
include earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods,
droughts, tidal waves, tsunamis, fires, landslides, and avalanches.
The earth crust is made up of a number of plates that sit on a sea of lava
beneath. At some places on the crust, lava, ash, smoke etc breaks through and
the result is volcanic eruptions. Sometimes the eruption is so violent that it
destroys living things that are near it. The eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD
destroyed the towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum. In 1883, the catastrophic
explosion of Krakatoa off the west coast of Java generated tsunamis that killed
hundreds of thousands of people in Indonesia. In 2004, underwater volcanic
eruptions in the Indian Ocean caused tsunamis that again killed hundreds of
thousands living nearby.
The plates of the earth crust are not static. They push and grind against one
another producing earthquakes that sometimes cause widespread destruction to the
In addition to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, other natural phenomena
also brings destruction. In Malaysia, the Northeast monsoon rains that come
around December bring floods to the east coast of the peninsula. In Australia,
bushfires in summer destroy vast tracts of land. Snowstorms in the polar regions
of the earth cut the residents from the rest of the world. Droughts in parts of
India and Africa cause famine and tragedy.
No place on earth is totally free from disaster-causing events. We can only
do our best to deal with these events when they occur. People and property are
inevitably destroyed. Those who survive pick up the
pieces and continue living.