New Year Outlook On Global Disasters

Ongoing severe flooding in Queensland, Australia that has affected 200,000 people so far and disrupted mining operations in the state is a reminder of the human and economic toll of global disasters as we ring in the New Year.

The region has been hit with heavy rain since early December, in an event Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has described as a “major natural disaster.†

Mining and agriculture operations in Queensland have been disrupted, as have road, rail and ports infrastructure.

According to Munich Re, it is not yet possible to put an exact figure on the damage from the  Queensland  floods:

Since the beginning of December many places have been submerged under water and cut off from the outside world. Many mines have had to stop operations. Heavy rain in this region is nothing unusual and such weather patterns are accentuated by the prevailing “La Nià ±a† conditions.†

A Reuters report cites Queensland State Treasurer Andrew Fraser saying the ultimate cost would exceed A$1 billion ($980 million).

Meanwhile, Munich Re today said the overall picture for global natural catastrophes in 2010 was dominated by an accumulation of severe earthquakes to an extent seldom experienced in recent decades:

The high number of weather-related natural catastrophes and record temperatures both globally and in different regions of the world provide further indications of advancing climate change.†

According to Munich Re, a total of 950 natural disasters were recorded last year, nine-tenths of which were weather-related events like storms and floods. Overall losses amounted to around $130 billion, of which around $37 billion was insured:

This puts 2010 among the six most loss-intensive years for the insurance industry since 1980. The level of overall losses was slightly above the high average of the past 10 years.†

For more on the Australian floods, check out the Insurance Council of Australia website. Check out further I.I.I. international insurance facts and stats on Australia.

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