GENEVA -- A total of 23,833 people worldwide were killed by natural disasters in 2006, down nearly 75 percent compared with the number in 2005, the international Red Cross said in a report released Thursday.
The combined death toll from natural and technological disasters was 33,733 in 2006, which was the lowest figure in the past decade (1997-2006), said the annual World Disasters Report.
The report said there were altogether 427 natural disasters in 2006, which were responsible for the overwhelming majority of people affected by all disasters. However, the total number of people affected was almost 50 percent lower than the decade average of 268 million per year.
The earthquake in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, on May 27, 2006 represented the deadliest disaster last year, resulting in the death of 5,778 people.
The financial damage inflicted by natural disasters in 2006 was estimated at nearly 34.5 billion US dollars -- the second lowest figure of the past decade and less than half the decade average of 78.7 billion dollars per year.
However, a comparison of data for the past decade and for the previous decade (1987-1996) showed the number of disasters grew from 4,241 to 6,806, an increase of 60 percent, the report said.