More than three quarters of those people who died in disasters in 2009 lost their lives to extreme weather events, which caused nearly $15 billion in damages worldwide, according to the UN. Preliminary figures for the period from January to the end of November 2009 show that 224 of the 245 disasters were weather-related, and accounted for 55 million out of 58 million people affected. Data shows that the number of people killed in disasters is falling because countries are better prepared and have better early warning systems, Margareta Wahlstr�m, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative for Disaster Risk Reduction said. "But the cost of disasters are equally, steadily going up very dramatically from the 1980s into this decade, and that increase is continuing year by year," she stressed. For poorer nations, they have seen costs jump from $10 billion to $15 billion annually, Ms Wahlstr�m pointed out, while wealthier countries have experienced a cost surge from $20 billion per year to well over $70 billion. She noted that droughts � the most "complicated" of disasters to capture in statistics are not well-represented in the results announced today. "It is a major hazard, and it's a slow-moving one that kills people through bad health, malnutrition, disease and undermines livelihoods," the official said. For example, in Africa, droughts accounts for les than 20 per cent of reported disasters, but represents 80 per cent of all people affected.


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