Weather catastrophes in China soar: reinsurer

21st June 2011, Comments 0 comments

The world's biggest reinsurance company, Munich Re, said on Tuesday that deadly weather catastrophes in China had soared around four-fold in the last 30 years, costing its economy billions.

Munich Re said in a report that the number of annual disasters including violent storms, floods, extreme temperatures, droughts and forest fires had risen to about 48 by 2010 from around 11 in the early 1980s.

A company spokesman noted however that official reporting of such catastrophes would have been less transparent in China in the 1980s than today.

Munich Re said the weather events had claimed the lives of 148,000 people and cost $422 billion dollars over the same period.

The head of Munich Re's Georisk Research, Peter Hoeppe, said China's current flooding woes were only the latest in an escalating long-term trend.

"The devastating floods in China are of a dramatic dimension -- a phenomenon that has unfortunately occurred in China with increasing frequency over the last few decades," Hoeppe said in an e-mailed message.

"Every year, millions of Chinese are victims of weather-related natural catastrophes. And the risk is steadily growing, for climate change harbours the potential for torrential downpours while the risk of drought in certain regions is also on the rise."

Persistent rains since early June have swamped many areas across a wide swathe of China and the state weather bureau has forecasted continued downpours with the summer typhoon season approaching.

Torrential downpours across large parts of the country last year triggered the nation's worst flooding in a decade, leaving more than 4,300 people dead or missing in floods, landslides and other rain-related disasters.

© 2011 AFP

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