Natural Hazards

, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 151–175

Global Perspectives on Loss of Human Life Caused by Floods


DOI: 10.1007/s11069-004-8891-3

Cite this article as:
Jonkman, S.N. Nat Hazards (2005) 34: 151. doi:10.1007/s11069-004-8891-3


Every year floods cause enormous damage all over the world. This study investigates loss of human life statistics for different types of floods and different regions on a global scale. The OFDA/CRED Database contains data on international disasters and is maintained by the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters in Brussels (CRED) in cooperation with United States Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA). Information from this source on a large number of flood events, which occurred between January 1975 and June 2002, is evaluated with respect to flood location and flood type. Due to the limited availability of information on coastal flood events, the scope of this study is limited to three types of freshwater flooding: river floods, flash floods and drainage problems. First, the development of loss of life statistics over time is discussed. Second, the dataset is analysed by region, by flood type and by the combination of type and region. The study shows that flash floods result in the highest average mortality per event (the number of fatalities divided by the number of affected persons). A cross analysis by flood type and location shows that average mortality is relatively constant for the different types over various continents, while the magnitude of the impacts (numbers of killed) and affected for a certain type varies between the different continents. On a worldwide scale Asian river floods are most significant in terms of number of persons killed and affected. Finally, a comparison with figures for other types of natural disasters shows that floods are the most significant disaster type in terms of the number of persons affected.


flood mortality loss of life floods flood damage natural disasters 

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Road and Hydraulic Engineering Institute, Faculty of Civil EngineeringMinistry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management & Delft University of TechnologyNetherlands

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