Energy & Environment

California’s Camp Fire was world’s costliest disaster in 2018

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California’s Camp Fire was the world’s costliest disaster last year, according to an insurance company’s report published Tuesday.

German reinsurance firm Munich RE said the Northern California fire resulted in damages of $16.5 billion.

{mosads}More than 80 people were killed and thousands of buildings were destroyed during the November fire that ravaged Butte County, making it the deadliest wildfire in state history.

“Our data shows that the losses from wildfires in California have risen dramatically in recent years,” Ernst Rauch, Munich Re’s head of climate and geosciences, said in a statement. “At the same time, we have experienced a significant increase in hot, dry summers, which has been a major factor in the formation of wildfires. Many scientists see a link between these developments and advancing climate change.”

Overall, the United States accounted for 60 percent of insured value lost during 2018.

Hurricane Michael, which also affected Cuba, cost $16 billion and Hurricane Florence caused $14 billion in damages, primarily in the Carolinas.

Approximately 50 percent of the losses by natural catastrophes were insured, significantly higher than the average 28 percent insured.

“2018 saw several major natural catastrophes with high insured losses,” board member Torsten Jeworrek said. “These included the unusual phenomenon of severe tropical cyclones occurring both in the US and Japan while autumn wildfires devastated parts of California.”

Last year there were 850 disasters, with 43 percent of those in Asia, 20 percent in North America, 14 percent in Europe and 13 percent in Africa.

About 10,400 people lost their lives in 2018 because of natural disasters, primarily in Asia.


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