The 10 Cities Most At Risk Of Being Hit By Natural Disasters

Swiss Re, a global reinsurance company, has analysed the disaster potential for 616 of the world’s largest cities.

Each city is based on their potential for earthquakes, storms, storm surges, tsunamis, and river floods. For each type of disaster, Swiss Re devised a extreme weather scenario in which defenses fail and the human and economic toll can be enormous.

Each city was ranked based on the effect each scenario would have on city residents, by combining population distribution data with vulnerability estimates for each disaster. It comprises fatalities, injuries, evacuations, those whose homes would be damaged or destroyed, and those who would be unable to access their workplace.

10. Tehran, Iran

15.6 million people potentially affected

Tehran sits on one of the most dangerous fault lines in the world -- the North Anatolian fault. The entire population of the city is heavily exposed to earthquakes.

9. Los Angeles, USA

A man assesses the damage to a store in downtown Los Angeles street after a 5.4 magnitude earthquake struck on July 29, 2008.

16.4 million people potentially affected

Los Angeles, like much of California, sits along the San Andreas Fault, making it one of the most earthquake prone places in the world. 14.7 million people are at risk directly of earthquakes at any given time in the city.

8. Shanghai, China

Shanghai, China

16.7
million people potentially affected

Shanghai, China's most populated city, is located on the Yangtze River Delta, making it vulnerable to serious flooding from storms and typhoons. Its long coastline and the large volume of water flowing through the city makes it especially at risk.

7. Kolkata, India

India's ruling Congress party workers take shelter under a banner during rain and thunder storm before the start of a party meeting in Kolkata.

17.9
million people potentially affected

Kolkata is situated near the world's largest river delta, which makes it susceptible to flooding nearly every year. The drainage system, which is more than 140 years old, covers less than half of the city. Cyclones, tsunamis, and storm surges could also affect the city, which is ill-prepared to deal with a natural disaster.

5. Jakarta, Indonesia

People make their way to the market through a flooded street at the Muara Baru district in Jakarta January 20, 2013.

27.7
million people potentially affected

A lack of planning can exacerbate the effect of natural disasters, a phenomenon which has taken root in Jakarta. Wet season rains, insufficient drainage, and the fact that 40% of Jakarta is below sea level ensures that the city commonly experiences floods.

The government agreed to build 2 dams this year to ease the issue, but that does nothing to ease the other dangers that Jakarta faces -- namely earthquakes. Situated near a fault line, Jakarta is prone to earthquakes, which are magnified by the soft, poorly drained soil.

4. Osaka-Kobe, Japan

In, 1995, heavy construction machines break up concrete of a toppled freeway Kobe after an earthquake hit the city.

32.1
million people potentially affected

In 1995, the Great Hanshin earthquake devastated the Osaka-Kobe area, killing more than 6,000 people and causing $US100 billion in damage. Another earthquake like that could easily hit again in the future and the city wouldn't be much more prepared. Because the city is on a coastal plain, the area is vulnerable to storm surges and ranks third for cities at risk of tsunamis.

3. Pearl River Delta, China

34.5
million people potentially affected

The urban density of the Pearl River Delta is unprecedented. Centered on vast flood plains are the massive cities of Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Dongguan, Macau, and Ghangzhou. The area is the number one area at risk for storm surge, the third highest for cyclonic wind damage, and the fifth highest for river floods.

2. Manila, Philippines

In the aftermath of super typhoon Haiyan, thousands of people were airlifted from badly affected areas of the Philippines to Manila. Swiss Re's report suggests that in the future Manila could be as badly hit.

34.6 million people potentially affected

Manila may have gotten lucky during super typhoon Haiyan, dodging the worst the storm had to offer, but next time it might not be. Nearly half of Manila's population is seriously at risk of earthquake damage and the city is severely affected by high wind speeds and severe storms. Flooding has become a near annual disaster, plaguing the city in 2012 and 2013.

1. Tokyo-Yokohama, Japan

A building burns after an earthquake in the Odaiba district of Tokyo Japan March 11, 2011.

57.1
million people potentially affected

The Tokyo-Yokohama region is at a severe risk of nearly every potential calamity: earthquakes, monsoons, river floods, and tsunami. Nearly 80% of the population is seriously exposed at any time to large earthquakes. In addition, Tokyo is located on an active fault in the Pacific, making it especially at risk for tsunamis.

Natural disasters aren't the only dangers to cities...

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