Disaster

Ruins from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, remembered as one of the worst natural disasters in the history of the United States.

A disaster is a serious disruption occurring over a short or long period of time that causes widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.[1][2] Developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95 percent of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialized countries.[3][4]

Etymology

The word disaster is derived from Middle French désastre and that from Old Italian disastro, which in turn comes from the Ancient Greek pejorative prefix δυσ-, (dus-) "bad"[5] and ἀστήρ (aster), "star".[6] The root of the word disaster ("bad star" in Greek) comes from an astrological sense of a calamity blamed on the position of planets.[7]