Natural Disasters

How many people die from disasters, and how are these impacts changing over time?

Disasters – from earthquakes and storms to floods and droughts – kill approximately 40,000 to 50,000 people per year. This is the average over the last few decades.

While that’s a relatively small fraction of all deaths globally, disasters can have much larger impacts on specific populations. Single extreme events can kill tens to hundreds of thousands of people. In the 20th century, more than a million deaths per year were not uncommon.

Disasters have other large impacts, too. Millions of people are displaced – some left homeless – by them each year. And the economic costs of extreme events can be severe, and hard to recover from. This is particularly true in lower-income countries.

We are not defenceless against disasters: deaths from disasters have fallen significantly over the last century as a result of early warning systems, better infrastructure, more productive agriculture, and coordinated responses.

As climate change increases the risks of more extreme events, making societies even more resilient will be crucial to prevent our recent progress from reversing. To do so, we need to understand how disaster events are changing, who is most vulnerable, and what can be done to protect them.

On this page, you will find our complete collection of data, charts, and research on natural disasters and their costs.

Explore Data on Natural Disasters

Research & Writing

Interactive charts on Natural Disasters

Cite this work

Our articles and data visualizations rely on work from many different people and organizations. When citing this topic page, please also cite the underlying data sources. This topic page can be cited as:

Hannah Ritchie and Pablo Rosado (2022) - “Natural Disasters” Published online at Retrieved from: '' [Online Resource]

BibTeX citation

    author = {Hannah Ritchie and Pablo Rosado},
    title = {Natural Disasters},
    journal = {Our World in Data},
    year = {2022},
    note = {}
Our World in Data logo

Reuse this work freely

All visualizations, data, and code produced by Our World in Data are completely open access under the Creative Commons BY license. You have the permission to use, distribute, and reproduce these in any medium, provided the source and authors are credited.

The data produced by third parties and made available by Our World in Data is subject to the license terms from the original third-party authors. We will always indicate the original source of the data in our documentation, so you should always check the license of any such third-party data before use and redistribution.

All of our charts can be embedded in any site.