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Roundup of October’s major natural disasters around the world

Aon plc has published the latest edition of its monthly Global Catastrophe Recap report, which evaluates the impact of the natural disaster events that occurred worldwide during October 2020.

The report highlights Hurricane Delta, which made landfall in the United States on October 9th along the southern coast as a Category 2 hurricane, bringing significant storm surge, incessant rainfall and hurricane-force wind gusts to eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana. Total economic losses were anticipated to approach $4 billion, with roughly half covered by public and private insurers.

Another hurricane, Zeta, rapidly intensified in the Gulf of Mexico to also make landfall on the southeastern Louisiana coast on October 28th as a high-end Category 2 storm, killing six people and becoming the record 11th-named storm to impact the mainland US during the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season. Total economic and insured losses were each anticipated to exceed $1 billion.

Major wildfires continued to sweep across regions of the US in October, with the greatest impacts observed in California, Colorado and Oregon. In California, the Glass Fire destroyed 1,555 structures while damaging an additional 280. Seasonal direct economic costs from the fires across California, Colorado and Oregon were estimated to exceed $13 billion, while insurers faced payouts beyond $8 billion, with both estimates subject to change.

Statewide in California, at least 4.1 million acres (1.66 million hectares) have burned in 2020, resulting in 31 fatalities, and destroying at least 10,488 structures. In Colorado, three of the top four largest fires on the state’s modern record have occurred since July 31st.

Meanwhile, in Europe, devastating floods occurred in the Alpes-Maritimes region of southeastern France and Piemonte in northwestern Italy after the passage of storm Alex, killing at least 16 people, and triggered by extremely intense precipitation during a phenomenon known as a Mediterranean episode. Authorities initially estimated total economic losses at approximately EUR2.7 billion ($3.2 billion), with insurers expecting notable payouts in the hundreds of millions EUR.

Further natural hazard events to have occurred globally in October include:

  • Since the beginning of October, heavy seasonal rainfall due to an extended monsoon season combined with multiple low-pressure systems affected the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Maharashtra, killing at least 142 people and affecting approximately one million hectares (2.5 million acres) of cropland nationwide, as well as damaging or destroying tens of thousands of houses and other structures. The total combined economic losses were estimated at $4 billion.
  • Unabated seasonal rains aggravated by tropical storms Linfa, Nangka and Saudel prompted catastrophic flash floods and landslides in central parts of Vietnam from October 4th through 23rd. At least 154 people were killed or missing. The situation later deteriorated due to the impact of Typhoon Molave on October 28th.
  • A strong, magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the eastern Aegean Sea on October 30th, causing notable damage in the Izmir Province of Turkey and Samos Island of Greece. There were at least 115 fatalities, 1,034 injuries and thousands of buildings with various degrees of structural damage in Turkey. At least 10,000 insurance claims were filed within the Turkish Natural Catastrophe Insurance Pool, and several thousands more with private insurers.
  • Heavy seasonal flooding in Nigeria continued into early October. Since the start of the rainy season in the summer, 155 people have lost their lives and more than 75,000 structures have been damaged or destroyed. During October alone, more than 50 people were killed as heavy flooding occurred in Jigawa, Kebbi, Kwara, Sokoto and Zamfara states.
  • A severe storm with hailstones measuring up to 14cm (5.5 inches) in diameter impacted the greater Brisbane metro region in Australia on October 31. The Insurance Council of Australia (ICAUS) declared a catastrophe and noted 26,000 claims worth AUD300 million ($219 million) as of November 9.

Read the full report (PDF).



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