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Swiss Re reveals scale of 2007 catastrophes

Natural and man-made catastrophes in 2007 led to overall global financial losses of $61 billion (SFr70 billion), according to initial estimates by Swiss Re.

The world's biggest reinsurer also revealed on Tuesday that more than 20,000 people were killed by the disasters.

Although the insured losses, at $25 billion, were $9 billion higher than in the previous year, 2007 is below the long-term loss trend.

The large losses occurred in the first half of the year and were concentrated in Europe. In January Germany, Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands reported losses from winter storm Kyrill. Britain was also hit twice by heavy rains and flooding during the summer.

In the United States a winter storm struck the East Coast in April, bringing with it heavy rainfall which resulted in flooding. At the end of October the Witch forest fires raged in California, causing extensive property damage.

Over the course of the year, more than 20,000 people died in catastrophes. Bangladesh was hit several times by natural disasters, with Cyclone Sidr destroying extensive parts of the country's southwestern region in mid-November at a cost of more than 4,000 lives. In July and August the country was also hard hit by monsoon rains and landslides.

Major man-made disasters caused insured losses in excess of $2 billion in 2007, with industrial fires, explosions and aviation and spacecraft losses at the top of the list. Insured property losses were approximately of the same magnitude as those in 2006.


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