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Asian Nations Ranked as Most Vulnerable to Natural Disasters

A global risk assessment company says four Asian nations have topped its ranking of countries most vulnerable to natural disasters.

British company Maplecroft says the four nations facing an "extreme risk" of natural disasters include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Iran and Pakistan. It compiled the ranking of 229 countries and territories using data on disasters since 1980.

Several factors determine a country's ranking, such as the number of deaths a year from disasters and the frequency and likelihood of such events.

Natural disasters are defined as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, storms, flooding, drought, landslides, extreme temperatures and epidemics.

The 15 countries rated as facing an extreme risk of natural disasters include three African nations: Ethiopia, Sudan and Mozambique. The study says 95 percent of casualties in those nations are caused by drought.

Three developed nations are ranked as "high risk," one category below "extreme."

France and Italy were deemed the most vulnerable countries in Europe because of heatwaves in 2003 and 2006 that killed 40,000 people. The United States also is rated as high risk, with 8,000 deaths in the past 30 years from disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Maplecroft says the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was the deadliest disaster of the decade, with 226,408 deaths, followed by Cyclone Nargis, which hit Burma in 2008 and killed 138,366 people.

It says the third deadliest disaster was China's Sichuan earthquake that killed 87,476 people in 2008.