Monday, 19 May 2008

China's Earthquake Death Toll

The latest reports have the toll at 71,000 dead or missing. This is a tragic figure but Earthquakes are natural disasters. There is nothing anyone can do to stop them, all a nation can do is mitigate their effects by building safer buildings.

The death toll has rightly caused international solidarity. However something that is controlled by nations and can be prevented - industrial accidents and road accidents get no outpouring of sympathy. Over 100,000 Chineese die in road and industrial accidents. The 18.5% of the total caused by industrial accidents are especially entirely stoppable, they can be virtually eliminated by better regulation and compensation. There isn't much said about this.

There seems to be a human response where a single disaster attracts more sympathy than slow and entirely preventable deaths. 9/11 versus US policies in Latin America, Hiroshima and Nagasaki versus Iraqi sanctions (200,000 immediate deaths versus 2 million estimated Iraqi deaths) or any natural disaster versus a carpet bombing campaign.

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