Water-related hazards dominate disasters in last 50 years: UN agency
UNITED NATIONS: Water-related hazards dominate the list of disasters in terms of both the human and economic toll over the last 50 years, according to a comprehensive analysis by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), a Geneva-based UN agency.
“The Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970-2019)”, which will be published in September, finds that of the 10 disasters, causing the most human fatalities in the last five decades, droughts top the list with some 650,000 deaths across the globe.
Storms caused upwards of 577,000 fatalities, floods led to more than 58,000 deaths, and extreme temperatures caused over 55,000 to die.
The temperatures in parts of North America soar and unprecedented flooding in north-central Europe continues to dominate news headlines.
The German national meteorological service said up to two months’ worth of rainfall fell in two days, on July 14 and 15, affecting parts of Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Austria.
According to news reports, more than 120 people have died in Germany alone, and hundreds remain missing.
Meanwhile, parts of the central Chinese province of Henan received more accumulated rainfall between July 17 and 21 than the typical average for a full calendar year.
The report estimates that of the top 10 events examined between 1970 and 2019, storms accounted for approximately $521 billion in economic losses, while floods accounted for around $115 billion.
Excerpts from the report show that floods and storms resulted in the largest losses in Europe in the last 50 years, at a cost of $377.50 billion.
A 2002 flood in Germany caused $16.48 billion in losses, representing the single costliest event in Europe during the period studied.
Across the continent, a total of 1,672 recorded disasters resulted in nearly 160,000 deaths and $476.5 billion in economic damages.
“Weather, climate and water-related hazards are increasing in frequency and intensity as a result of climate change,” WMO secretary general Petteri Taalas said.
“The human and economic toll was highlighted with the tragic effect by the torrential rainfall and devastating flooding and loss of life in central Europe and China in the past week,” he added.
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