Record number of devastating disasters in 2008: Worldwatch

June 6th, 2009 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 6 (IANS) The number of devastating natural disasters, those designated as Category 5 based on their financial and human impact, increased to 40 in 2008, the highest number on record, says global green NGO Worldwatch.
“Of the monsoon floods, hurricanes and typhoons that contributed to the total, only one event - the June earthquake in Japan - was not weather related,” a Worldwatch spokesman said over e-mail.

A new snapshot of natural disasters trends based on data from 1974 to the present reveals that in 2008, some 750 natural disasters occurred worldwide, a 22 percent decline from the record 960 that occurred in 2007. While the number of smaller catastrophes (Categories 1 and 2) fell in 2008, major catastrophes continued an upward trend.

Worldwide, the annual average number of hydrolgical (water related) disaster events has tripled since the 1980s, while meteorological and climatological events have nearly doubled, Worldwatch added.

Economic losses from disasters totaled $200 billion, of which $45 billion was insured, the spokesperson said, adding that the Worldwatch update was based on insurance firm Munich Re’s systematic recording of natural perils that began in 1974.

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