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Insurance market Lloyd's 2010 profits tumble

by Staff Writers
London (AFP) March 30, 2011
The Lloyd's of London insurance market said Wednesday that profits sank last year due to major claims arising from earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand, floods in Australia and the BP oil spill.

Pre-tax profits tumbled 43 percent to 2.20 billion ($3.5 billion, 2.5 billion euros) in 2010 from 3.87 billion in 2009, Lloyd's said in a results statement, as it was also hit by lower investment returns.

"In 2010, Lloyd's made a profit of 2.2 billion despite facing significant claims from the tragic earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand, the floods in Australia and the loss of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico," Lloyd chairman Lord Levene said.

"The catastrophes of 2010 and 2011 have shown the crucial role insurance plays in helping communities rebuild after a crisis."

"We must also keep in mind that insurance is part of a wider financial services industry that is essential to Britain's economic recovery. We look to the government to protect the competitiveness of our industry and its contribution to both society and the economy."

Lloyd's said that 2011 has already proved to be an "extraordinary" year of disasters, following Japan's devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami which has sparked a nuclear crisis.

"2011 has already been an extraordinary year of tragic natural disasters," added Lloyd's chief executive Richard Ward.

"We extend our deepest sympathies to those affected and we are working hard to make sure claims are dealt with swiftly so communities in Japan, New Zealand and Australia can rebuild and recover."

earlier related report
US military sees extended help for Japan
Washington (AFP) March 30, 2011 - The US military plans to keep up support to survivors of Japan's massive disaster for the foreseeable future and does not worry it is stretched thin, a top officer said Wednesday.

Rear Admiral Scott Swift, director of operations at US Pacific Command, said that around 15,000 US personnel were taking part in the round-the-clock relief operations since Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

"How long we will maintain a presence -- the answer is simply as long as the Japanese people and in particular the Japanese Self-Defense Force requires our assistance," he said, referring to the officially pacifist nation's military.

Swift, addressing a Washington conference of the National Bureau of Asian Research by telephone, said he also expected US support "will continue for some time" after the military mission.

Japan's tragedy struck days before President Barack Obama ordered military intervention against Libya's leader Moamer Kadhafi, putting the US military in its third conflict zone after Afghanistan and Iraq.

If a new crisis erupted, US forces in Japan may have to cancel exercises "but we certainly have the capacity to focus on those areas that may have national interest," Swift said.

The United States stations some 47,000 troops in Japan, a close US ally which lies near the tense Taiwan Strait and Korean peninsula.

Swift said that past cooperation with Japan helped the US relief efforts, which has been dubbed Operation Tomodachi, or "friend."

"We are much further along in dealing with the humanitarian assistance and disaster response than we would have expected based on past experiences in helping others," he said.

The US military says it has taken more than 50,000 tons of fuel and 650 tons of cargo to areas of northern Japan hit by the earthquake, which has killed more than 11,000 people and left over 16,000 others missing.

Around a quarter of a million people are living in evacuation centers.

US troops have sometimes had rocky ties with communities in Japan in the past, particularly on the southern island of Okinawa which is home to around half of the forces.




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DISASTER MANAGEMENT
Tsunami-triggered toilet paper crisis hits Tokyo
Tokyo (AFP) March 29, 2011
An acute shortage of toilet paper has hit Tokyo, as Japan's people react to the earthquake and tsunami by stocking up on essentials. In a posh supermarket in the centre of the capital, a lone sign stands where prior to the disaster there were mountains of toilet paper, tissues and paper towels. "Due to the vast earthquake in the northeast, we are currently out of stock. We apologise for ... read more

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