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Tay Bridge disaster
Tay Bridge disaster

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1 Disasters of natural origin

1.1 Overview

Why are disasters important? They attract public attention because there is great loss of life, or because the event happened suddenly and quite unexpectedly, or because the accident occurred to a new project that had been regarded as completely safe. Certainly, the aspect of suddenness is one that features in many catastrophes, and indeed, it is this feature by which a catastrophe is defined.

Great disasters are always traumatic, especially for those who endure them and come through alive. They remain fixed in time and place, and are endlessly re-analysed for any clues as to their cause or causes with the quest for understanding, and for ways of forestalling or preventing future catastrophes of a similar nature.

Natural phenomena that can cause disasters are inherently uncontrollable, but yet attempts can be made to limit their effects on human populations by planning, or by engineering structures to make them more resistant to natural forces.