Accidents and CatastrophesIntroduction Nature and managemt of accidents and catastrophes world wide require different strategies unique to the regions though principles of disaster management are the same for mitigation of loss of lives and damage to property and prevention. This paper deals with all aspects of disaster managemt with particular reference to U. K though it draws inspiration from U. S.A. experience also. Nature of Accidents and CatastrophesGradual build up of energy or weights ends up in their sudden release thus resulting in natural accidents such as earth quakes, floods, storms, snow avalanche etc.
On the other hand, accidents of human-machine systems are characterized by simultaneous occurrence of events. In the latter case, the events occur by condition of risk or deterioration exceeding the permissible limits. Activities of mankind due to technological developments of the 20th century at faster rates than in the previous centuries have led to newer threats to human beings and objects created by them. Frequency of events therefore shifted from natural calamities to man made ecological, social disasters. Scientists therefore shifted their attention to industrial failures caused by industrial accidents at the chemical enterprises in Flixborough (England) in 1974, Seveso (Italy) in 1976 resulting in irreparable damage to environment.
Bhopal tragedy in India in 1984, Chernobyl accident in Ukraine in 1986 and virus attacks in the internet and terrorist in the U. S in September 2001 also resulted in similar consequences to environment besides loss of lives of thousand of people. Level of safety to humans has not increased in spite of efforts being undertaken all over the world. Thus the inadequate safety results in persistent losses in billions of Euros.
Safety problems, risks in ecology, engineering, finance, economics, terrorist and information danger have assumed enormous proportions requiring attention at the State level. About 45 thousand dangerous manufacturing units, large scale constructions in Russia pose serious threats of disasters on a national level in the event of their destructions. If extreme situations (ES) arise, hundreds of thousand of lives will be lost besides destructions to the infrastructures. They are already happening in the world. In Russia alone, 1076 technogenic ES have occurred. It has happened in industrialized territories, by an increase of 91% in North West and 48%in Central, 41% in other regions of Russia.
Therefore extra attention in the civil sphere encompassing nuclear, chemical, metallurgical, mining industry and large scale construction of dams, viaducts and oil storages, dangerous cargoes, gas and oil pipe line and a large number of people involved need to be given, not to speak of military sphere covering space-rockets, aviation systems, nuclear plants, nuclear submarines and large-scale warehousing of arms and ammunitions. (Solojentsev, 2004, p 15-17) Any event that causes losses of more than $25 million is considered a catastrophe.
Hurricane Katrina of Aug 2005 involved a loss of $43,625 millions, and September 2001 attack resulted in a loss of $ 21,981 millions. The figures represent only property losses and do not include loss due to deaths. This is in spite preparedness of households ranging from 42% to 88% for different varieties of preparedness such as having a fire escape plan to know how to turn off electricity, gas, water, having a disaster preparedness kit in times of emergency. (Insurance Information Institute) September 11 attack killed 2976 people and caused economic cost of $ 200 billion. (Hartwig, 2006)Possible future global natural catastrophes are predicted to involve massive earthquakes, pandemics, alien aggressions, interplanetary impact, supernova, Ice age, Magnetic field reversal, and manmade catastrophes in Tokyo, Sanfrancisco, or LosAngeles causing trillion dollar loss leading to worldwide depression, and setting back of human progress by a decade. will be nuclear catastrophe, cultural decline, bioterrorism, robot aggression, and nanoplague. (Human Knowledge)