Pandemic hurts ability of nations to face natural disasters

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FILE – In this Sept. 25, 2017, file photo, workers shovel papers and debris off the top of the rubble of a building that collapsed in last week’s 7.1 magnitude earthquake, at the corner of Gabriel Mancera and Escocia streets in the Del Valle neighborhood of Mexico City. The virus outbreak is compromising the ability of nations to prepare for natural disasters and deal with the aftermath. Every year, the world contends with devastating typhoons, wildfires, tsunamis and earthquakes. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell, File)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — The virus outbreak is compromising the ability of nations to prepare for natural disasters and deal with the aftermath. Every year, the world contends with devastating typhoons, wildfires, tsunamis and earthquakes.

FILE- In this March 2, 2011, file photo, a New Zealand Urban Search and Rescue worker walks through the central business district during a search of earthquake damaged buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand. The virus outbreak is compromising the ability of nations to prepare for natural disasters and deal with the aftermath. Every year, the world contends with devastating typhoons, wildfires, tsunamis and earthquakes. (AP Photo/Mark Baker Pool, File)

That dynamic doesn’t change just because the globe also happens to be fighting a pandemic. But many nations prone to natural disasters appear to have done little to prepare for a dual disaster. Experts fear the usual protocols for coping with the aftermath of natural disasters could further spread the virus, compounding the death toll from both.

FILE – In this April 15, 2016, file photo, police rescue team members search through damaged houses to check possibility of trapped people in Mashiki, Kumamoto prefecture, southern Japan. The virus outbreak is compromising the ability of nations to prepare for natural disasters and deal with the aftermath. Every year, the world contends with devastating typhoons, wildfires, tsunamis and earthquakes. (AP Photo/Koji Ueda, File)

Already, the virus has hindered preparations to fight wildfires in California after a particularly dry winter. And when a strong quake struck Croatia’s capital Zagreb, people ran out and briefly ignored social distancing. 

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