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Severe cold weather and Storm Emma cause extensive impacts across Europe - Aon

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Apr 2018

Global Nat CAT

The outbreak of cold, arctic air and Storm Emma affected a large area of Europe during the second half of February and into early March with temperatures falling to some of their coldest levels in decades, causing thousands of flights to be cancelled or delayed and many different sectors were closed due to inclement conditions. Local governments also reported that at least 88 fatalities had occurred due to hypothermia and other incidents.
   Total financial cost, including business interruption, was expected to minimally reach well into the hundreds of millions (US$) – though very likely to be higher, with a high volume of filed insurance claims, reported the latest edition of Global Catastrophe Recap report, launched by Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team.
Other catastrophes in February
Meanwhile, a powerful magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck Papua New Guinea on 26 February 26, killing at least 75 people and injuring more than 500 others. The government allocated PGK450 million (US$140 million) for initial recovery efforts, though the final cost is expected to be even higher.
   Mr Steve Bowen, Impact Forecasting director and meteorologist, said: “Nearly every major continent recorded noteworthy natural disaster impacts during the month of February. While financial costs from large-scale weather events in Europe and the United States are likely to be easily absorbed by local governments and the insurance industry, the impact to less affluent regions is expected to pose a greater challenge for recovery. The scale of damage in the South Pacific Islands from Cyclone Gita, and the major earthquake in Papua New Guinea, highlight the continued need to ensure that insurance programs or risk mitigation solutions are in place to help expedite the short- and long-term recovery processes.”
   Further natural disaster events to have occurred elsewhere during February include: 
  • Two winter storms led to widespread travel disruption in the US.
  • A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck just offshore eastern Taiwan on February 6, killing at least 17 people, injuring 278 others, and causing widespread damage across the city of Hualien. 
  • Torrential rainfall and severe thunderstorms led to widespread damage across central and eastern sections of the US, killing at least 15 people. Total economic damage was expected to minimally exceed US$200 million.
  • Severe thunderstorms affected Argentina, with an individual hailstone measured at 7.1 inches (18.0 centimeters) in diameter recorded in Cordoba. If confirmed, it would be the largest hailstone ever in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Seasonal rainfall in Indonesia led to severe flooding across the archipelago. A combined 24 people were killed or missing, and nearly 30,000 homes were inundated by flooding or landslides. 
  • South America recorded multiple big flood events in February, with parts of Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina affected. Total economic damage exceeded US$200 million to property, infrastructure and agriculture.
  • Other notable floods occurred in Malaysia, Canada, Malawi, and in the Middle East.
  • Cyclone Gita impacted several island nations in the South Pacific Ocean, causing significant damage in parts of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, American Samoa, New Caledonia, and New Zealand. Damage to infrastructure and public structures alone was estimated as being up to US$50 million. A 
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