Flooding after a river burst its banks in Montblanc, Tarragona, in 2019. / efe

Nearly 1,500 people have died in environmental disasters in Spain since 1995

Floods, heatwaves and maritime storms have accounted for over 65% of fatalities of this type a new report indicates

JOSÉ A. GONZÁLEZ MADRID.

Lightning, gale force winds, extreme temperatures, landslides, fires, rain… these are all natural phenomena which have caused the deaths of 1,493 people in Spain since 1995.

The figures are from the Environmental Profile of Spain report, published by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge this week, and it says the incidence of natural events such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes is low compared with extreme meteorological phenomena.

Floods have been responsible for the highest number of deaths, accounting for 26.5% of the total. This is followed by high temperatures (20.3%) and maritime storms (18.6%). “These three natural phenomena are responsible for over 65% of all deaths of this type,” the report says.

Flooding is on the increase

Many of the floods have been caused by high-level isolated depressions (known as Dana), which insurance companies say cause an average of 800 million euros' worth of damage every year. However, although there have been more floods, the number of fatalities has dropped and 2021 “stands out as the year with the lowest number of deaths (19) from natural disasters,” according to the report.

Heatwaves have killed over 200 people

Heatwaves are another result of climate change and they have also been having an effect. In the summer of 2021 there were two official heatwaves on the Iberian Peninsula and three in the Canary Islands. This is actually lower than the 41 days which were classified as heatwaves in 2022, but until this year’s figures are included in a report 2021 can be seen to be the worst year on record with temperatures reaching 47.4C.

According to Ministry of Health figures, more than 200 people have died as a result of heatwaves since 1995.

Government sources have said that Spain has an action plan in force to reduce the impact of environmental factors on health. “It focuses on prevention and control and is structured to set out what needs to be done according to the level of risk,” they explained.