Natural Disasters Less Costly so far This Year

7/10/2014 11:08:33 AM

The first half of 2014 has seen significantly fewer deaths and much lower damage costs from natural disasters than the same time last year or the average of the past 10 years, reinsurer Munich Re said July 9.

The number of people killed from floods, storms, landslides and other natural disasters this year is 2,700, a fraction of the 9,100 who died during the same period in 2013 and below the average of the 53,000 who died over the past decade. Damage costs so far have reached $42 billion worldwide, which is still below the $95 billion in average cost over the past 10 years, according to the reinsurer's six-month review of natural disasters.

Photograph from an aerial survey showing the extent and impacts from the landslide in northwest Washington that occurred on March 22, 2014. The survey was conducted by the Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Natural Resources, USGS, and King County Sheriff's Office. Photographer: Air Support Unit , King County Sheriff's Office. (Credit: Flickr/U.S. Geological Survey)

The deadliest disasters so far this year have been landslides and flash floods in Afghanistan, killing 650 people. Snowstorms in Japan were the most expensive, with $2.5 billion in insured losses, according to Munich Re.

Despite the lower figures, the risk of deadly and expensive disasters remains the same, according to Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek, who is responsible for the global reinsurance business.

Weather predictions suggest that El Niño, where warm water travels through the Pacific Ocean, is likely to develop this fall. This could potentially increase the likelihood of flooding and drought. This could also trigger La Niña the following year, increasing the risk of a damaging hurricane season (Maria Sheahan, Reuters, July, 9).

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