Stormy October 'caused £500m of damage'

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The Independent Online

Extreme weather that hit Britain and much of western Europe in October caused damage worth about $725m (£490m), according to an insurance company's figures released yesterday.

Extreme weather that hit Britain and much of western Europe in October caused damage worth about $725m (£490m), according to an insurance company's figures released yesterday.

An analysis of last year's worst disasters by insurance company Swiss Reinsurance showed that the storms and floods which swept Europe were the second worst in terms of financial cost.

They were eclipsed only by floods in Tokai, Japan, on 10 September which cost insurers more than $1bn. The floods are estimated to have caused $7.8bn damage, of which $1.04bn was insured.

Other major catastrophes and the killing of members of a doomsday cult claimed 17,000 lives in 2000 and caused losses totalling $38bn. The biggest loss of life came from flooding in India and Bangladesh at the end of August, where 1,200 people died, the company reported in its annual catastrophe review. Incidents of flooding were responsible for four of the top five disasters in 2000.

SwissRe said: "The number of fatalities from man-made disasters - almost 9,000 - was significantly above the average for the past decade." The deaths in Uganda of 780 people belonging to the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments was the fourth worst catastrophe of the year in terms of the human toll.

Of the $38bn in damages, insurers will have to pick up the bill for $11bn. Floods alone accounted for $2.5bn. Among man-made disasters, the most costly for insurers was an explosion in a Kuwaiti oil refinery which cost $400m.

The losses were in line with the average for the 1990s and were substantially down on 1999, the second most expensive year in insurance history.

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