Mother nature lends a hand: Global natural catastrophes at lowest level since 2006

Oliver Gill
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Queenslanders Begin Clean Up In Wake Of Ex-Cyclone Debbie
Cyclone Debbie, which made landfall in Australia in March, was 2017's second most costly natural catastrophe (Source: Getty)

Mother Nature may just have come to the rescue and provided some balance to all the political turmoil afflicting the planet.

The economic fallout from global natural catastrophes was at its lowest level since 2006 in the first sixth months of 2017, according to figures released today by reinsurance giant Munich Re.

Some $41bn (£31.4bn) of losses were incurred of which only around half ($21.5bn) were insured.

Total fatalities dropped from 5,100 to 3,200.

The costliest single event this year was flooding in Peru, with an economic impact of $3.1bn. Only 10 per cent of the losses were covered by insurance.

Read more: Natural catastrophes led to insured losses of over £30bn last year

How does 2017 compare?

First half of 2017 First half of 2016
Number of events 350 390
Overall losses $41.0bn $111bn
Insured losses $19.0bn $32.0bn
Fatalities 3,200 5,100

Cyclone Debbie making landfall in Australia was second on the most costliest list, creating $2.7bn of losses; half of these were insured, Munich Re said.

Debbie made landfall on 28 March in the sparsely populated area around Airlie Beach. It was a category four cyclone (second-highest category) with wind speeds gusting up up to 260 km/h.

"Supercell thunderstorms"

Meanwhile, a total of six large-scale thunderstorms and hailstorms caused havoc in the US, which left the country shouldering a bill of $18.5bn. In contrast with Peru though, around 80 per cent of these losses were covered.

Peter Hoppe, head of Munich Re’s geo risks research team explained three of the US storms round out the top five most costly events.

He said: “The unusual atmospheric conditions in the US in the first half of 2017 provided the perfect conditions for powerful supercell thunderstorms, which frequently bring major hailstorms and tornadoes.

The number of tornadoes observed in the first quarter of 2017 was twice as high as the average for the last 10 years.

Top five deadliest natural catastrophes of 2017

Month Country Event Fatalities
April Colombia Flash flood/landslide 329
April-June India Heatwave 264
May Sri Lanka Flood/landslide 212
February Afghanistan Avalanche/winter damage 191
June Banglasdesh Landslide 164

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