10 most expensive natural disasters since 1980

By Chris Huber
Mar 25, 2013
©2012 World Vision
Typhoon Bopha rakes through Agusan del Sur Asia. The deadly typhoon decimated parts of the Philippines in December.

Tallying roughly $50 billion, the cost of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction in the United States accounted for more than one-third of the economic impact of natural disasters worldwide in 2012.
 
While natural disasters killed fewer people last year than in years past, they made for more expensive clean-up. For the third straight year, the global economic impact totaled more than $100 billion. The 310 reported disasters affected 106 million people and caused about $138 billion in damages.

Estimates are based primarily on insured losses in developed countries, and do not reflect losses in developing nations.

About 1,900 people died, for example, when Typhoon Bopha decimated parts of the Philippines in December. The economic impact was about $1.7 billion, but much more uninsured property was destroyed.

"Globally, most victims this year were from floods and droughts, which were responsible for nearly 80 percent of all victims,” said Debby Guha-Sapir, director of the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED) at the University of Louvain, Belgium. “But as they occur in poorer countries, the economic losses are low. Even so, the floods of Pakistan cost nearly 2 percent of its annual GDP, which is a lot to recover.”

Bopha was the deadliest and Sandy the most expensive, but neither was considered a mega-disaster, like the Haiti earthquake in 2010 or the Japan tsunami in 2011.



Top 10 most expensive disasters since 1980 (in U.S. billions adjusted for inflation)

Disaster/Country

 YearCost
1. Tohoku earthquake/tsunami  (Japan)2011$214
2. Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Wilma (U.S.) 2005$182
3. Kobé earthquake  (Japan)            1995$150
4. Sichuan earthquake  (China)                   2008$90
5. Naples earthquake  (Italy)    1980$55
6. Hurricane Sandy  (U.S.) 2012$50
7. Northridge earthquake  (U.S.)      1994$46
8. Niigata-ken earthquake  (Japan)  2004$34
9. Maule region earthquake  (Chile)2010$31
10. Izmit earthquake  (Turkey) 1999$27
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