Zurich (AFP) March 29, 2011
The global cost of natural and man-made disasters more than tripled in 2010 to $218 billion (154 billion euros), reinsurer Swiss Re said Tuesday, with the human toll the highest for decades.
"2010 was not only characterised by severe earthquakes that ranked among the deadliest, costliest and most powerful in history, but also by a series of extreme weather events, such as major floods," said Thomas Hess, chief e economist of Swiss Re.
Such "severe catastrophes" claimed 304,000 lives last year the highest level since 1976, compared to 15,000 in 2009, the report added.
These disasters cost the global insurance industry over $43 billion in 2010, up more than 60 percent from the previous year.
Earthquake losses -- in particular those in Chile and New Zealand -- accounted for almost a third of all disaster losses in 2010, and high claims from seismic activity are expected to continue in 2011.
"Incidentally, earthquake losses for 2011 will also be above average as the total insured claims for the February 22 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, are estimated to be between $6 billion and $12 billion," said the reinsurer.
"The massive Tohoku earthquake that struck Sendai, Japan on March 11 is also expected to trigger significant insured losses," it added.
Swiss Re estimated last week that Japan's earthquake and tsunami have cost the company some $1.2 billion, but warned that this figure could be revised upwards.
"Although no long-term trend of increasing global earthquake activity has emerged, the number of fatalities and insured losses from earthquakes are on the rise," said Balz Grollimumd, who co-authored Swiss Re's study on disasters.
"The main reasons are population growth, the higher number of people living in urban areas as well as rising wealth and rapidly increasing exposures. Many of these rapidly growing urban areas are located in seismically active areas," he noted.
More than 222,000 people were killed in Haiti's earthquake, the deadliest disaster in 2010.
The $218 billion worldwide economic losses from natural and man-made catastrophes last year compared to $68 billion incurred in 2009, Swiss Re said.
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Aid workers praised Myanmar's regime on Monday for its speedy response to the recent earthquake that killed more than 70, in contrast to the aftermath of previous disasters to strike the country. The powerful 6.8 magnitude quake struck near the borders with Thailand and Laos late on Thursday leaving an official toll of 75 dead, including one woman in Thailand. "The government's response ... read more
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