• Germany's news in English
 

2012 natural disasters cost €122 billion

Published: 03 Jan 2013 13:07 GMT+01:00

"Last year, natural catastrophes caused $160 billion in overall losses and $65 billion in insured losses worldwide," Munich Re said in a statement.

About 67 percent of overall losses and 90 percent of insured losses were attributable to the United States, with the year's highest insured loss caused by hurricane Sandy, with an estimated amount of around $25 billion, the reinsurer said.

In addition, the US was also hit by severe droughts, as well as tornadoes, it added.

Overall, global losses were significantly lower in 2012 than in the previous year, when record figures were posted due to the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and severe floods in Thailand, Munich Re continued.

In 2011, overall losses came to $400 billion and insured losses to $119 billion.

In terms of fatalities, about 9,500 people lost their lives in natural catastrophes last year compared with 27,200 in 2011 and a 10-year average of 106,000.

"The relatively small number of fatalities was due to the fact that, in 2012, few severe natural catastrophes occurred in emerging and developing countries, where natural catastrophes tend to have far more devastating consequences in terms of human lives," Munich Re explained.

Hurricane Sandy made landfall on the east coast of the US on October 29.

While at that point, its maximum wind speeds were no more than 150 kilometres (94 miles) per hour, "it was an exceptionally wide storm, measuring 1,800 kilometres in diameter – one-and-a-half times as big as Texas – so that the losses extended over a vast area," Munich Re said.

The second major loss event of 2012 was the summer-long drought in the US that plagued the Corn Belt in the midwest, where most of the US's main agricultural crops, corn and soybean, are grown, Munich Re said.

Nearly half of US arable acreage was hit and overall agricultural crop losses in the US in 2012 totalled around $20 billion, "making it the biggest loss in US agricultural insurance history."

In average years, insured losses are around $9.0 billion.

The head of Munich Re's Geo Risks Research, Peter Hoeppe, said Hurricane Sandy and the drought "clearly demonstrate the type of events we can expect to contend with more often in the future."

It was not possible to attribute individual events to climate change, he noted.

"However, numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the US East Coast in the long term."

The rise in sea level caused by climate change would further increase the risk of storm surge.

Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek said that the heavy losses caused by weather-related natural catastrophes in the US showed that greater loss-prevention efforts were needed.

"It would certainly be possible to protect conurbations like New York better from the effects of storm surges. Such action would make economic sense and insurers could also reflect the reduced exposure in their pricing," Jeworrek said.

AFP/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

07:03 January 4, 2013 by anaverageguy
"However, numerous studies assume a rise in summer drought periods in North America in the future and an increasing probability of severe cyclones relatively far north along the US East Coast in the long term."

Numerous studies "assume"? How very scientific.

You know, you can look at a snapshot of me now.... and I hardly look anything like I did then..... it doesn't mean anything unnatural is happening.
Today's headlines
Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list
An eightfold composite picture of different views of the Chilehaus (Chile House) and the Sprinkenhof in Hamburg. Photo: EPA/Christian Charisius/dpa/picture alliance

Hamburg districts make UNESCO heritage list

The UN cultural agency on Sunday designated Hamburg's historic maritime warehouse and business districts, boasting early 20th century German brick architecture, as World Heritage sites. READ  

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader
Frauke Petry, the new leader of the AfD. Photo: Lukas Schulze/picture alliance/dpa

Germany's AfD heads right with new leader

Germany's Alternative for Germany (AfD) party ousted its co-founder and frontman Bernd Lucke on Saturday to elect a new leader from its right wing, signalling a shift in focus to immigration from its anti-euro origins. READ  

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture
A fissure on the Autobahn near Heidelberg. Photo: DPA

Extreme heat causes Autobahn to rupture

The heatwave sweeping across the country may have Germans flocking to the sea this weekend, but the extreme temperatures are also causing Autobahns to break apart. READ  

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Nazi island resort to be turned into luxury flats

A vast Nazi mega-complex meant as holiday homes for German workers and later used by the Soviets as a Cold War barracks is about to be turned into luxury flats. READ  

Greece crisis
'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble
A poster of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in Athens reads "For five years he has sucked your blood. Now tell him NO." Photo: DPA

'Bundestag must vote on new bailout': Schäuble

UPDATE: Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said on Friday that there would be no quick release of bailout funds to Greece after the country's referendum on whether to accept its creditors' terms on Sunday. READ  

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp
The new Deutsche Post stamp showing the Dalai Lama. Photo: DPA

Activists give Dalai Lama 80th birthday stamp

Pro-Tibet activists have created a new limited-edition stamp featuring the Dalai Lama to mark the Tibetan spiritual leader's 80th birthday. READ  

Women's World Cup
'Germany will crack England': top coach
Star striker Celia Sasic. Photo: DPA

'Germany will crack England': top coach

The manager of European champions FFC Frankfurt told The Local he expects Germany to beat England in the third place play-off in the Women's World Cup, and predicted his protege Celia Sasic will grab a goal or two. READ  

NSA surveillance scandal
Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying
Chancellor Angela Merkel, the highest-profile German victim of NSA spying, speaking on the phone. Photo: DPA

Calls grow for govt to act on NSA spying

Green Party security expert Konstantin von Notz told The Local on Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel is failing to restore faith in the German-US partnership following fresh spying revelations. READ  

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds
Ilka Semmler and Katrin Holtwick. Photo: DPA file

Germany reach semis of beach volleyball worlds

Germany's top beach volleyball pair are storming the world championships in Holland and prepare to face Brazil in the semis on Friday. READ  

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues
Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks. Photo: DPA

Environment minister blasts Merkel, colleagues

Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks loosed a broadside against her cabinet colleagues on Friday in a guest article for Die Welt, saying that they had decided to do too little to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions in a way that would cost too much. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Police seize pensioner's WW2 heavy weapons haul
National
How to survive the Europe-wide heatwave
Sport
Is Schweini already out of the door at Bayern?
Politics
How German media shaped the Greece crisis
National
Car assembly robot crushes worker at Volkswagen
Rhineland
Weathermen red-faced over heatwave snow warning
Society
An eye for an eye? Mum protects child in playground with pepperspray
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's final day in Germany
National
As it happened: Queen Elizabeth's second day in Germany
National
Queen Elizabeth II's first day in Germany - as it happened
National
Bus passengers tell fake racists where to get off
Politics
What's really in the Queen's handbag?
National
Germans say USA doesn't respect freedom
National
Yes, you CAN buy adult e-books before 10pm in Germany
VIDEO: Watch a 93-metre turbine crash to earth in slow motion
Gallery
Who's got a shot at the German Film Awards
Rhineland
Anger over 'child-free' beer garden
National
How do you do, Majestät?
National
Man defends right to pee in public with tear gas
Features
The Germans who won Waterloo for the British
Frankfurt
Should Germany ban circus animals?
Hamburg
Where people are having the most sex in Germany
Culture
Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Not this student...
National
Dresden's three-decade-long red light
Politics
Upper house calls for gay marriage now
Berlin
Berlin named 3rd-best city worldwide
Sport
In search of the toughest firefighter
Business & Money
German firms shine for European engineering students
Gallery
Hitler's paintings up for auction
National
German's 70-year search for murdered US pilot
Politics
What the G7 leaders agreed at Elmau
Business & Money
What really makes Germans happy
National
Playmobil builder leaves worldwide legacy
National
The car share that became a drug run
Politics
What Snowden revealed to Germany
Rhineland
Why wolf cubs are being raised by hand
National
Hitler's booze cave found
National
Environment makes Germany worth living in
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,947
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd