Following up the colossal and tragic earthquake in Chile this week, the Guardian Datablog have an article that summarises the deadliest earthquakes since 1970.
Japan, a place that in my head is singularly linked with earthquakes, only appears once - for the 1995 Kobe earthquake that claimed 5,502 lives. I was surprised by this initially, but then I thought about it some more. Japan is a rich country, with effective building standards and (mostly) honest construction companies. It may well have been struck by many worse earthquakes than some of those here, but it deals with it with less trauma than those affected by the seismic events recorded in the article.
As one of the comments says, "God must hate poor people." My heart goes out to those in Chile, but looking at the list it's easy to see that people in Indonesia, China and Iran have been terribly affected by earthquakes too in the same period. These are countries that are hard pressed to cope with social problems at the best of times - the misery of a natural disaster is too much.
Reading the article about the Kobe, or Great Hanshin Quake was an eye-opener: the slump in the market caused by the quake, in the Guiness Book of Records for the costliest natural disaster, has been attributed as a contributing factor in the figurative collapse of Barings Bank and, valued at 2.5% of GDP, a fairly major contribution to the recession that Japan was in the midst of at the time.
At least this fate is one that is unlikely to affect the UK when we stagger the same path shuffled along by Japan's post-bust zombie economy...