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WSL-database of natural hazard fatalities in Switzerland since 1946

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The database of fatalities caused by natural hazard processes was compiled by WSL for the years from 1946 onwards with the aim of obtaining a complete series of all relevant natural hazard processes in Switzerland.


Fatalities due to floods, landslides, debris flows, rockfall, windstorms, lightning strikes, avalanches, earthquakes, ice avalanches and other (less frequent) processes are considered. The avalanche deaths were obtained from the WSL Snow and Avalanche Research Institute SLF. Fatalities of the remaining processes were taken from the Swiss flood and landslide damage database of the WSL and supplemented with an extensive newspaper research.

Fatalities in which people have consciously exposed themselves to great danger, or fatalities during leisure activities, which are generally associated with increased risk, were not taken into account (e.g. canoeing or river surfing during flood flows, canyoning, mountaineering, climbing, snow touring, skiing or snowboarding away from open ski trails, unauthorized walking or driving on a blocked traffic route - if not required by profession).

For the years 1946-2015, over a thousand fatalities were considered. Most people died from avalanches, followed by lightning strikes, floods, windstorms, rockfall, landslides and other processes.

The avalanche fatalities data set is provided by the SLF on ENVIDAT (deaths per calendar year or hydrological year). The data collection covering the remaining natural hazard processes is  financially supported by the FOEN and the data set can also be downloaded on ENVIDAT. The data represent the official statistics of the FOEN on fatalities due to floods, debris flows, landslides, rockfall and avalanches.


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