Major environmental disasters: July 2017

Relentless seasonal flooding that began in mid-June resulted in continued fatalities and damage across parts of Asia in July, causing an estimated US$11 billion in economic losses, according to Impact Forecasting’s latest Global Catastrophe Recap report.

Impact Forecasting noted that the greatest flooding impacts in Asia were recorded in China, where the Ministry of Civil Affairs listed combined economic flood damage at more than US$10 billion during a six-week stretch, much of which occurred in the Yangtze River Basin. Nearly 200 people were left dead or missing and hundreds of thousands of homes were damaged or destroyed.

Heavy flooding also occurred in Japan following the landfall of Tropical Storm Nanmadol and “abundant remnant moisture associated with a frontal boundary,” with more than 2,600 homes and other structures damaged or destroyed as extensive flooding and landslides affected Fukuoka, Oita, Shimane, Kumamoto and Hiroshima prefectures, the statement said. Total economic losses were expected to near US$1 billion.

Pictures Of The Week Photo Gallery
People swim past the top of a pagoda at a flooded riverside park in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province.

In Canada, intense heat and gusty winds led to hundreds of wildfires and “numerous reports of damage” in British Columbia, where a state of emergency was declared. Officials reported that 240 wildfires were at one point active in July. The British Columbia government announced that it had allocated CAD100 million (USD78 million) to help areas rebuild.

In Alberta, up to tennis ball-sized hail fell on July 23, accompanied by strong winds and heavy rain, the report noted. Hail caused extensive damage to vehicles, houses, crops and other property, while high winds downed multiple trees and power poles, tore shingles off roofs and toppled grain bins. Impact Forecasting estimated the economic loss at US$50+ million.

Other natural hazard events throughout July included:

  • Officials in Italy reported that prolonged drought conditions have cost the economy about US$2.3 billion in economic losses. Production of vegetables, fruits, cereals, vines, and olives were all impacted by the abnormally dry conditions which prevailed across the country during the first half of 2017;
  • Monsoon rains killed hundreds and caused major damage to structures, agriculture and infrastructure in parts of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Total economic damage in the hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars;
  • Seasonal rains in Thailand killed at least 23 people and caused economic damage in excess of US$300 million, while flash flooding in northern Switzerland prompted claims payouts of nearly US$90 million;
  • Two separate instances of powerful thunderstorms resulted in considerable damage in Turkey, marked by large hail and flooding throughout the greater Istanbul metro region. Turkish insurers anticipated combined claims payouts reaching US$440 million;
  • Additional severe thunderstorms and subsequent flooding affected many sections of the U.S.. Damage and casualties resulting from large hail, straight-line winds, isolated tornadoes were noted in the Midwest, Plains, Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and the Desert Southwest. Total combined economic and insured losses were expected to enter the hundreds of millions in U.S. dollars;
  • Tropical Storm Talas made landfall in Vietnam, causing US$44 million in economic damage;
  • Strong earthquakes were recorded in the Philippines, Greece, Turkey and China.

PDF Icon View the full Impact Forecasting July 2017 Global Catastrophe Recap report (PDF)

Source: Canadian Underwriter

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