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Introduction: Overview of natural disasters
Recent emerging and re-occurring natural and man-made disasters around
the world reinforce the potency of the forces of humanity’s destruction as
depicted by ‘The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse – Conquest, War, Famine/Pestilence/Drought/Mass Starvation, and Death.’
Examples of the
devastation caused by disasters abound in every region of the world. The
Hanshin Earthquake (“Kobe earthquake” as it is commonly known outside of Japan) of 17 January 1995 with its epicentre in the Awaji Island, Japan, claimed over 6000 lives, and devastated the city of Kobe. This was the
worst earthquake in Japan since the Kanto earthquake of 1923 that claimed
140 000 lives. The Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004, with its epicentre off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, triggered a series of devastating tsunamis on the Indian Ocean coasts killing over 200 000 people.
As one of the deadliest natural disasters in history, it caused massive damage and claimed thousands of lives in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand. In August 2006, hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in
the history of the United States, devastated the city of New Orleans, caused
extensive damage along the entire Mississippi coast, and led to the loss of
over 1500 lives. In May 2008, cyclone Nargis flattened buildings, claimed
over 100 000 lives, and rendered over 1 million people homeless in Myanmar. The recent earthquake in China, past and recurring hurricanes and
The Right to Health
in Emergencies: Natural or
Obijiofor Aginam*T h e R i g h t t o H e a l t h i n E m e r g e n c i e s 174
tornadoes in the Americas and the Caribbean, flood, famine and drought in
parts of Africa, have brought in their wake complex questions about realizing the right to health in emergencies.
Natural or man-made disasters: Cyclone,...