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Cred Crunch Newsletter, Issue No. 50 (March 2018) - Natural Disasters in 2017: Lower mortality, higher cost”

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In 2017, EM-DAT data indicates that 318 natural disasters occurred, affecting 122 countries. The impact of which resulted in 9,503 deaths, 96 million people affected, and US$314 billion in economic damages.

The human impact of natural disasters in 2017 was much lower than the last 10 year average, where events with extremely high mortality occurred, such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti (225,570 deaths) and the 2008 Nargis Cyclone in Myanmar (138,400 deaths).

In 2017, there was no single major event responsible for increased mortality. This is unlike more recent years where the earthquake in Nepal (2015) killed 8,831 people and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (2013) killed 7,354. Still both these years had a mortality below the 10 year average.

The year with the highest economic losses was 2011, at US$400 billion, mainly due to the earthquake/tsunami in Japan (a). However, 2017 is the second most costly year, reflected in the impact of three hurricanes - Harvey (US$95 billion), Irma (US$66 billion) and Maria (US$69 billion), affecting the United States and the Caribbean (cfr Cred Crunch 49).

Weather-related disasters were responsible for the majority of both human and economic losses in 2017 (B). Almost 90% of deaths in 2017 were due to climatological, hydrological or meteorological disasters. Nearly 60% of people affected by disasters in 2017 were affected by floods, while 85% of economic damages were due to storms (mainly from the three hurricanes cited above).