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Global natural disasters wreak USD160 bn damage in 2018: Munich Re

AFP  |  Frankfurt Am Main 

Natural disasters including wildfires, hurricanes and tsunamis inflicted USD 160 billion of damage and claimed 10,400 lives in 2018, German reinsurer said Tuesday.

The financial toll was far below the USD 350 billion recorded the previous year in a record hurricane season, the firm said in its annual reckoning, but above the 30-year average of USD 140 billion.

As with the previous year the suffered the heaviest losses from disasters globally, with its second record wildfire season in a row.

But it was given some respite from damaging storms, with the hurricanes hitting the country in 2018 inflicting far less destruction than in 2017.

Wildfires dealt USD 24 billion of damage in California, while Hurricanes and Michael accounted for a combined USD 30 billion.

Just one blaze known as the "Camp Fire" killed 86 people and caused losses of USD 16.5 billion in early November as it tore through the foothills of the

As losses from wildfires have grown in step with increasingly frequent hot and dry summers, "many scientists see a link between these developments and advancing climate change," said Ernst Rauch, Munich Re's

What's more, "burgeoning settlements in areas close to forests at from wildfire" mean that "casualties and losses are immense," he added.

warned that "action is urgently needed on building codes and land use" to limit wildfire losses.

Looking to the human cost of catastrophes, the financial firm said the deadliest event was a September 28 that hit the Indonesian city of Palu, killing 2,100 people.

highlighted that 2018's death toll was far below the 53,000 average for the previous 30 years.

"From a global perspective, measures to protect human life are starting to take effect," the company said. Worldwide, the firm pointed to an unusual hurricane season last year as "named tropical storms in all northern-hemisphere ocean basins outnumbered the long-term average".

Category-five "super typhoon" Mangkhut, also known as Ompong, killed 100 people when it struck the in September.

Jebi, just one of seven typhoons to strike Japan, dealt USD 12.5 billion in damage.

Beyond the hurricanes, a second that struck the Indonesian islands of and in December killed "at least" 400.

The tidal wave went undetected by as it was caused by an underwater landslide rather than an earthquake.

Meanwhile suffered a further USD 9 billion in damage from two earthquakes.

was spared dramatic one-off disasters in 2018, but a long summer drought inflicted around USD 3.9 billion in direct losses to arable and livestock farmers and slowed economies as rivers ebbed too low to be used for freight traffic.

The dry summer also contributed to violent wildfires in

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, January 08 2019. 18:40 IST