Natural disasters killed 295,000 in 2010: reinsurer

3rd January 2011, Comments 0 comments

The Haiti earthquake and floods in Pakistan and China helped make 2010 an "exceptional" year for natural disasters, killing 295,000 and costing 130 billion dollars, the world's top reinsurer said Monday.

"The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change," said Munich Re in a report.

A total of 950 natural catastrophes were recorded last year, making 2010 the second worst year since 1980. The average number of events over the past 10 years was 785.

"2010 showed the major risks we have to cope with. There were a number of severe earthquakes. The hurricane season was also eventful," said Torsten Jeworrek, the firm's chief executive.

The earthquake in Haiti was by far the worst disaster in terms of human cost, killing 222,570 people, Munich Re said. Some 56,000 died in a combination of heatwaves and forest fires in Russia, it said.

In terms of economic cost, insured losses amounted to approximately 37 billion dollars, putting 2010 among the six most loss-intensive years for the insurance industry since 1980.

Although the Haiti earthquake resulted in human devastation on a "staggering scale", it cost the insurance industry very little.

However, an earthquake in Chile that hit over a month later was the world's most expensive natural disaster last year, with overall losses of 30 billion dollars and insured losses of eight billion dollars.

In 2009, considered a "benign" year due to the absence of major catastrophes and a less severe than usual hurricane season in the North Atlantic, there were 900 "destructive natural hazard events", costing some 60 billion dollars.

Around 11,000 people lost their lives in natural disasters in 2009, well below the average of 77,000.

Last month, another major reinsurer, Swiss Re, reported that man-made and natural disasters generated worldwide economic losses of 222 billion dollars in 2010, more than three times the figure for the previous year.

© 2011 AFP

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