Global Economy Suffers Worst April Natural Disaster Losses for 5 Years

The two major earthquakes that struck southern Japan during April, causing massive devastation and killing at least 66 people, with more than 4,000 others injured, are expected to result in total economic losses that could exceed JPY1.12 trillion (USD10 billion), which includes physical damage to residential and commercial structures, vehicles and infrastructure, and business interruption, according to the monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report released by Aon Benfield's catastrophe model development team.

The General Insurance Association of Japan reported that nearly 70,000 non-life claims had been filed, as total insured losses were expected to breach JPY225 billion (USD2.0 billion).

Meanwhile, a major magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Ecuador's northwest coast on April 16, killing at least 660 people and injuring more than 17,638 others. According to government figures, the total economic cost for the damage and reconstruction was expected to be above USD3.0 billion. Given low insurance penetration levels, the insured loss was set to be a fraction of the overall financial cost.

Steve Bowen, Director at Impact Forecasting, said: "The global footprint of natural disaster losses in April was significant. Between major events such as the Kumamoto earthquake, the severe convective storms and flooding in the United States, and flooded agriculture in Argentina, economic and insured losses are poised to make this the costliest April since 2011.

"The large differential between the economic and insured losses is yet another reminder of how much opportunity exists for the insurance industry to help engage with governments, communities and businesses around the world to provide the risk expertise that can help mitigate the effects of natural disasters."

Natural hazard events that occurred elsewhere during April include five outbreaks of severe convective storms impacted the United States, causing total aggregated economic losses estimated to exceed USD4.0 billion, and insurance losses beyond USD3.0 billion.

Excessive rains led to considerable flooding across Argentina, with the provinces of Entre Rios, Corrientes, Santa Fe, Chaco, Formosa, and Santiago del Estero and Uruguay sustaining the worst damage. Total economic losses to agriculture alone were estimated at ARS18.6 billion (USD1.3 billion).

A prodigious U.S. rainfall event caused major flash flooding in the greater Houston metro region, resulting in total economic losses expected to exceed USD1.0 billion. Meanwhile, major flood events were recorded in Chile, China, Ecuador, Uruguay, Haiti, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Uganda, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, India, and Afghanistan.

The combination of heavy rainfall from two tropical disturbances and Tropical Cyclone Zena led to flooding across several islands of the Fiji archipelago, killing two people.  Meanwhile, an unseasonably intense heatwave killed at least 300 people in India, with the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh noting temperatures above 44°C (111°F).

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