Dutch heatwave deaths topped 1,000

The Netherlands comes in at number four in the UN’s list of countries affected by natural disasters in 2006. According to figures published by the UN’s disaster research unit in Geneva today, a thousand people in Holland died during last July’s heat wave.

Most of the fatalities were from vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the report says. There was public debate in the Netherlands last year on whether old people’s homes should be installed with air-conditioning systems – most are not at present.
The Netherlands is one of three European countries in the UN’s top 10. Belgium is at number five with 940 deaths as a result of last summer’s heat wave while in the Ukraine 801 people died from extremely cold temperatures.
In total over 21,000 people died in 395 natural disasters in 2006, 30 of them related to extreme temperatures, the UN report concluded. And it drew attention too to the increase in floods and storms which have gone up to 226 in 2006 compared to 162 over the preceding six years.
Salvano Briceňo, director of the UN disaster research unit: ‘We need to be better prepared globally and not only in Asia and Africa. The latest storms in Britain, Germany, Holland and Russia that killed more than 40 people show that even countries with the best early warning systems are in danger. People ignore warnings and think they are immune.’

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