Natural disasters kill less but cost more -

Munich Re published a report on January 8 on the consequences of natural disasters in 2018. Compared to the period 1998-2017, the number of these events and the costs generated are increasing, while the number of deaths is decreasing.

A report by the German reinsurer Munich Re, published on January 8, lists 850 natural disasters for the year 2018. These events caused the deaths of 10,400 people and generated $ 160 billion (more than 140 billion euros) of damage.

The number of disasters is increasing compared to the last years: there were on average 630 events during the 10 previous years and 500 over a period of 30 years.

Fewer deaths but more damage

Despite this increase, the death toll is down. It averaged 53,000 over the previous 30 years, or 106 deaths per disaster. In 2018, the number of casualties per event dropped to just over 12. This shows, according to the study, that " measures to protect human lives are starting to produce effects ".

Indonesia at the forefront of natural disasters

Because of the increase in the number of disasters, the overall cost of these disasters is increasing, with 140 billion dollars (ie nearly 123 billion euros) on average over the period 1988-2017. However, it can be emphasized that the cost per event is decreasing, from $ 280 million (246 million euros) over 30 years to just over 188 million dollars (nearly 165 million euros) in 2018.

Dead in Asia, high costs for rich countries

The five deadliest disasters of the year occurred in Asia. The seismic tsunami that struck Palu and its surroundings on 28 September in Indonesia, with 2,102 deaths. The following events are the Lombok earthquake on August 5 and the volcanic tsunami in the Sunda Strait on December 22, both in Indonesia, a series of floods and landslides in India in late summer and floods in Japan in early July.

The most expensive disasters take place in the richest countries. Among the five most expensive events, Munich Re records the fires of Camp Fire (California) in November ($ 16.5 billion - or € 14.5 billion), hurricanes Michael and Florence in the United States. autumn, the typhoon Jebi in Japan and Taiwan in early September and the floods in Japan.

Fire in California, back to Paradise

The Californian fires generated a total of $ 24 billion (21 billion euros) in damages. According to the report, the increase in fire damage is due to two main factors: on the one hand, climate change induces hotter and drier summers, which favors fires; on the other hand, the development of dwellings near forests increases the costs when fires occur.

The situation in Europe

In Europe, the two main natural disasters are the Frédérike storm on 18 January (11 deaths in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium, 2.8 billion dollars - nearly 2.5 billion euros - damage) and continental drought. This cost $ 3.9 billion (€ 3.4 billion), mainly through the consequences on the agricultural sector and fires in the Nordic countries.

Rémy Fontaine