The World's 5 Most Disaster-Prone Cities

Asia is apparently especially risky, insurer's rankings suggest
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 6, 2014 1:30 PM CDT
Updated Apr 6, 2014 2:00 PM CDT
The World's 5 Most Disaster-Prone Cities
Black smoke rises from a building in Tokyo's Odaiba bay area after strong earthquakes hit Japan Friday, March 11, 2011.   (AP Photo/Yasushi Kanno, The Yomiuri Shimbun)

In the wake of Chile's earthquake, the Guardian was wondering which cities were the riskiest to live in from a natural-disaster perspective. So they checked with a source with a vested interest in knowing precisely that: The re-insurance company Swiss Re. Here are the five cities it's most worried about:

  • No. 5: Jakarta, Indonesia. Its soil is soft, near a fault line, and drains poorly, so in the event of an earthquake, the ground can essentially turn into liquid underneath you. Oh, and 40% of the city is below sea level and it's prone to river flooding.
  • No. 4: Osaka-Kobe, Japan. Earthquakes are a constant threat here—thousands died in a 1995 quake—and it's the third-most tsunami-prone city in the world. It's also often bombarded by storm surges from typhoons.
  • No. 3: Hong Kong, China. This city, and the rest of the Pearl River Delta, is located right on a flood plain, making it the worst place in the world for storm surges, the third-worst for cyclone damage, and the fifth-riskiest for river floods.
  • No. 2: Manila, Philippines. Situated just off the Philippines trench, it's constantly threatened by high-speed winds and storms—Typhoon Haiyan was among the worst in history—and there's a strong earthquake risk as well.
  • No. 1: Tokyo, Japan. As we all learned in 2011, earthquakes and tsunamis are a huge concern here. About 80% of the city at any given time is at high risk for an especially large quake. And that's before we even touch on Godzilla.
For the full top 10—which includes one US city—click here. (More natural disaster stories.)

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