The global fatality count from earthquakes continues to rise. This has occurred despite the adoption of earthquake-resistant building codes in most countries where damaging earthquakes have historically caused loss of life. In the past five centuries the global death toll from earthquakes has averaged 100,000/year, a rate that is dominated by large infrequent disasters, mostly in developing nations. Though an increased fatality rate might be expected from the steady increase in global population (Bilham, 1988), recent urban growth has been accompanied by a decline in the fatality rate as expressed as a percentage of instantaneous population. It is...

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