Nepal Quake Biggest April Disaster: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting

May 8, 2015

Aon Benfield’s Impact Forecasting’s monthly catastrophe report for April highlights the catastrophic damage throughout Nepal, India, China, and Bangladesh, caused by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake that struck Nepal during the month.

The quake killed as many as 10,000 people and injured more than 14,000. “Preliminary economic losses were expected to reach and possibly exceed $5.0 billion – which would equal to at least 25 percent of Nepal’s gross domestic product (GDP) – with very low insurance penetration in the region,” the report said. “Government figures revealed that more than 700,000 homes and other structures were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, as well as dozens of historical sites.”

Adityam Krovvidi, Head of Impact Forecasting Asia Pacific, said: “While the level of damage and casualties was enormous, the seismological magnitude of the event in the Indo Nepal region was not unexpected. Scientists have been warning about a major event resulting from the ‘central seismic gap’ in the Himalayan fault system since the 1934 event.

“Unfortunately for the earthquake peril, timing is always the greatest unknown factor. The vulnerability of buildings and structures in Nepal poised a significant risk given the absence of good seismic code history and implementation practice.

“Impact Forecasting has already developed an earthquake scenario model for Nepal, which it released at its Singapore conference this week, and is planning to send a team of seismic and vulnerability experts to conduct a reconnaissance study. Our findings will be published in the coming months.”

Severe thunderstorm activity increased significantly in the U.S. in April, with five separate events impacting central and eastern areas of the country. Dozens of tornadoes touched down, with parts of the Plains, Midwest, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast sustaining the worst damage. “Total combined insured losses were expected to reach $2.0 billion, including more than $750 million from one event alone,” the report said. It also noted, however that “despite an active month for U.S. tornadoes (185), the annual total remained at a historically low level.

Other catastrophic events for the month of April were listed as follows:
• Severe weather in Australia caused significant damage in the states of New South Wales and Queensland. The Insurance Council of Australia estimated insured losses would near US$350 million.
• In China, four severe weather episodes caused widespread damage to properties and crops leading to aggregate economic losses of almost $1.0 billion.
• A rare F2 tornado prompted considerable damage in the Brazilian town of Xanxere, killing two people.
• Chile’s Calbuco volcano erupted three times and led to the evacuation of at least 6,500 residents. The eruptions were expected to cost the local economy up to $600 million.
• Torrential rainfall caused widespread flooding and landslides throughout parts of Brazil, Afghanistan, Haiti, Kazakhstan, and Kenya. In total, more than 100 people were killed.
• Major wildfires engulfed parts of Russia’s southern Siberia, killing at least 33 people and destroying nearly 1,500 homes. Total economic damages were listed at $140 million.
• A stretch of wintry weather caused heavy crop damage in eastern China. Unseasonably cold temperatures left vast areas of crops destroyed, with total damages recorded at $174 million.

To view the full Impact Forecasting April 2015 Global Catastrophe Recap report, follow this link: http://bit.ly/1DSVovC

Source: Aon Benfield/Impact Forecasting

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