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Roundup of August’s major environmental disasters around the world

Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team, has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during August 2016. 

The report highlights that days of extreme rainfall across parts of the United States Gulf Coast and Midwest caused catastrophic flood damage in several communities during the month, killing at least 13 people.
Total economic losses were forecast at USD10-15 billion, while public and private insured losses were expected to be in the low-digit single billions (USD), due to the regionally low participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which has resulted in more than 80 percent of damaged homes not having flood insurance.

Meanwhile, a severe magnitude-6.2 earthquake struck central Italy, killing 296 people and causing catastrophic damage in the hardest-hit towns of Amatrice, Accumoli, Pescara del Tronto, Arquata del Tronto, and Posta. Total economic damage was estimated to reach into the billions of dollars (USD); however, given very low insurance penetration, the insured loss portion was expected to be a fraction of the overall cost.

Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: "August was an active month for global natural disasters, led by two major catastrophes: historic flooding in Louisiana and a major earthquake in central Italy. While both these events were multi-billion dollar disasters, unfortunately, the vast majority of the losses are likely to be uninsured, further exposing the reality that certain perils remain vastly underinsured regardless of region. Indeed, as we enter the final third of 2016, roughly 75 percent of the year's disaster losses have been uninsured."

Other major natural disaster events to have occurred during August include:

  • In India, continued flooding brought the death toll for the season to 600 as more than 100,000 homes and other structures were destroyed. Total economic losses were estimated at USD462 million.
  • China, Pakistan, Vietnam, Philippines, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Sudan, South Sudan, and Macedonia all cited major flood events during the month.
  • Notable earthquake events were reported in Myanmar and Peru.
  • Hurricane Earl made separate landfalls in Belize and Mexico after first tracking through the Caribbean Sea, killing at least 67 people. Total economic losses were estimated atUSD250 million, including in Mexico (USD132 million) and Belize (USD110 million).
  • Tropical cyclone impacts Typhoon Nida (Philippines, China, Vietnam), Tropical Storm Dianmu (China, Vietnam), Tropical Storm Mindulle (Japan), and Typhoon Lionrock (Japan, China, Korean Peninsula).
  • Wildfires burning in southern France, mainland Portugal, and on the islands of Madeira (Portugal) and La Palma (Spain) claimed at least five lives. In Portugal alone, the fires charred 115,000 hectares (284,000 acres) of land as total economic damage was listed at EUR200 million (USD226 million).
  • Major California wildfires prompted evacuations and destroyed hundreds of homes. Economic losses were forecast at above USD100 million; the cost to fight the fires was more than USD50 million alone.
To view the full report, click here.


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