A new study has revealed that earthquakes have a bigger impact on health than other natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes.
The study led by Dr Susan Bartel of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in Boston noted that there are more than a million earthquakes, of varying severity, around the world each year.
As well as the immediate deaths, many people receive serious injuries, which cannot be treated because of the quake damage to infrastructure, and children are often at particularly high risk, the study said.
“Because earthquakes frequently affect populous urban areas with poor structural standards, they often result in high death rates and mass casualties with many traumatic injuries,” the BBC News quoted the researchers as writing in the Lancet.
In the past decade, earthquakes have caused more than 780,000 deaths – almost 60 percent of all disaster-related mortality. Other disasters, such as floods and hurricanes typically cause many deaths from drowning, but fewer injuries.
It is estimated that for every person killed in an earthquake, three others are injured.
Depression can also be common after earthquakes – affecting up to 72percent of the population.
Following the 1999 Turkey earthquake, 17percent of the population had suicidal thoughts.
Children are often at higher risk of injury and death during earthquakes than adults. In Haiti in 2010, 53percent of patients were younger than 20 years old and 25 patients were under five.
The study also warned that many of the world’s major cities are on fault lines, including Los Angeles, Tokyo, New York, Delhi and Shanghai, putting millions of people at risk from earthquakes.