Abstract

Inaccurate published statistics are often due to faulty information about a disaster, to the different accounting methods used by organizations, and to the lack of consensus among researchers and agencies about how to define key terms. Until recently, damage estimates for the 1755 Lisbon earthquake steadily increased due to the influence of ideological and emotional factors, as well as to the geographical/temporal distance from the event. New calculations, based in part on the death rate of Catholic Church personnel in Lisbon, suggests that falling debris killed between 5,000 to 8,700 people, a range that is close to initial claims. Roughly the same number of people died as a result of the subsequent tsunamis, fires, and civil unrest.

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