July’s Catastrophes Cause Widespread Losses Globally: Aon Benfield

Floods in Pakistan and China have taken thousands of lives and damaged hundreds of thousands of homes, according to a new report on catastrophic events in July by a reinsurance team.

A European heatwave, wildfires in Russia and heavy rains in Texas also took their toll in July, the report says.

Impact Forecasting team, a division of Aon Benfield, reports that in Pakistan, more than 1,500 people died when monsoonal rains gave rise to flooding and landslides between July 21-29. An estimated 250,000 homes were damaged or destroyed and economic losses are expected to reach hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars.

Meanwhile, China also suffered from severe rainfall and subsequent flooding around the Yangtze River, with more than 650,000 homes affected and economic losses estimated at CNY84.8bn (USD$12.5bn) solely in the month of July.

“The flooding across Asia has displaced millions of people and destroyed many millions of hectares of farmland,” said Steve Jakubowski, president of Impact Forecasting. “In some cases, farming companies were reporting that 80 percent of their crops had been destroyed, which is devastating to the livelihoods of those affected and will have a significant impact on local economies, some of which rely heavily on agrarian output.”

Meanwhile, during July a severe heatwave hit Europe, causing at least 2,250 deaths, many from drowning as people took to the water to escape the high temperatures. Russia was particularly affected, where prolonged drought destroyed 10 million hectares of crops resulting in losses totaling EUR700m (USD$970m).

The heat sparked wildfires over many of Russia’s European areas, killing at least 40 people, injuring hundreds more and destroying around 2,210 homes. At least RUB30bn (USD1bn) had been allocated to fight the fires and rebuild destroyed areas. Initial economic damage losses were listed at RUB6.5bn (USD$210m).

In the U.S., the Rio Grande burst its banks as heavy rain hit Texas, damaging around 2,000 structures and causing USD$40m of damage. Severe storms also hit the Plains, Midwest, Southeast and New England between July 10-18, killing at least two people and causing damage estimated at tens of millions of dollars.

In Mexico, at least 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed during flash floods and river flooding between July 1-10. Total economic damage was estimated at MXN1.3bn (USD$100m) and insured losses of around MXN255m (USD$20m).