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Disasters cause highest death toll in 34 years

Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters resulted in 260,000 deaths in 2010, the highest toll since 1976, according to Swiss Re estimates.

The world’s second-largest reinsurer said the worldwide economic losses from such disasters cost $222 billion (SFr221 billion), more than triple the 2009 figure.

The costliest event in 2010 was the earthquake in Chile in February, which cost the insurance industry $8 billion, according to preliminary estimates. Property claims from the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon rig in the Gulf of Mexico are estimated at $1 billion.

The cost of disasters to the global insurance industry was $36 billion, an increase of 34 per cent over the previous year. Of that sum, $5 billion were caused by man-made problems.

The deadliest event in 2010 was the Haiti earthquake in January, claiming more than 222,000 lives. Around 15,000 people died during the summer heat wave in Russia. Summer floods in China and Pakistan also resulted in 6,225 deaths. By comparison, 15,000 people died in natural and man-made disasters in 2009.

The figures are initial estimates and may be adjusted because of the winter storm season, Swiss Re noted.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR