Encyclopedia > Disaster

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A disaster is an unexpected natural or unintentional man-made catastrophe of substantial extent causing significant property damage or destruction, loss of lives or sometimes permanent changes to natural environment. Disasters may also be used to refer to unforseen events which devastate a company or industry such as a public relations disaster or a major flop[?]. A disaster can create huge financial losses and protection against losses due to disasters is one purpose of insurance.

The term disaster comes from the term "bad stars" and reflects the key characteristic of a disaster which is its unintentional nature. Catastrophes which are intentional such as terrorist attacks are not termed disasters.

Ancient times

Modern times


An attack with much collateral damage may be considered a disaster, such as the attack on KdF Ship Wilhelm Gustloff, 1945, the worst or perhaps second worst maritime incident in history, in terms of loss of life in a single vessel (see also note at the end of the article RMS Titanic).

See also:

A disaster in database terminology refers to a loss of data which cannot be recovered.

See also: Business continuity planning

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