EM-DAT distinguishes between two generic categories for disasters: natural and technological. The natural disaster category is divided into 5 sub-groups, which in turn cover 15 disaster types and more than 30 sub-types. The technological disaster category is divided into 3 sub-groups which in turn cover 15 disaster types.


For a disaster to be entered into the database at least one of the following criteria must be fulfilled:

  • Ten (10) or more people reported killed
  • Hundred (100) or more people reported affected
  • Declaration of a state of emergency
  • Call for international assistance


EM-DAT data include the main following information:
Disaster number: A unique disaster number for each event (8 digits: 4 digits for the year and 4 digits for the disaster number - i.e.: 1995-0324).
Country: Country (or countries) in which the disaster has occurred.
Disaster group: Two main groups of disasters are distinguished in EM-DAT: natural disasters, and technological disasters. A third category complex disasters has been added in order to include specific event (famine) which are not directly linked to a natural hazard.
Disaster type: Description of the disaster according to a pre-defined classification.
Date: When the disaster occurred. The date is entered as follows: Month/Day/Year.
Death: Number of people who lost their life because the event happened.
Missing:The number of people whose whereabouts since the disaster is unknown, and who are presumed dead (official figure when available).
Total deaths: Sum of death and missing.
Injured: People suffering from physical injuries, trauma or an illness requiring immediate medical assistance as a direct result of a disaster.
Homeless: Number of people whose house is destroyed or heavily damaged and therefore need shelter after an event.
Affected: People requiring immediate assistance during a period of emergency, i.e. requiring basic survival needs such as food, water, shelter, sanitation and immediate medical assistance.
Total affected: Sum of injured, homeless, and affected.
Estimated Damage: The amount of damage to property, crops, and livestock. The value of estimated damage is given in US$ (‘000). For each disaster, the registered figure corresponds to the damage value at the moment of the event, i.e. the figures are shown true to the year of the event.


The definitions of the glossary terms are based on descriptions developed by :

Click here to see the complete glossary.


When a disaster occurs, the related information is entered at three different levels:
1. The event/disaster level
2. The country (or countries) level
3. The source level

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