Monday, December 29, 2008

Natural disasters 'killed over 220,000' in 2008

Agence France-Presse: Natural disasters killed over 220,000 people in 2008, making it one of the most devastating years on record and underlining the need for a global climate deal, the world's number two reinsurer said Monday. Although the number of natural disasters was lower than in 2007, the catastrophes that occurred proved to be more destructive in terms of the number of victims and the financial cost of the damage caused, Germany-based Munich Re said in its annual assessment.

"This continues the long-term trend we have been observing. Climate change has already started and is very probably contributing to increasingly frequent weather extremes and ensuing natural catastrophes," Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said.

Most devastating in terms of human fatalities was Cyclone Nargis, which lashed Myanmar on May 2-3 to kill more than 135,000 people and leave more than one million homeless. …Six tropical cyclones also slammed into the southern United States, including Ike which, with insured losses of 10 billion dollars, was the industry's costliest catastrophe of the year. In Europe, an intense low-pressure system called Emma caused two billion dollars worth of damage in March, while a storm dubbed Hilal in late May and early June left 1.1 billion dollars' worth.

…According to provisional estimates from the World Meteorological Organization, 2008 was the tenth warmest year since the beginning of routine temperature recording and the eighth warmest in the northern hemisphere. This means that the ten warmest years ever recorded have all occurred in the last 12 years, Munich Re said.

Devastation from Cyclone Nargis, US State Department

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