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April Natural Disasters Hit Global Economy Hard

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Natural disasters cost the world billions in April

The global economy took some hard hits from natural disasters last month in what was one of the worst months of April in recent history, Impact Forecasting said in a recent report.

Impact Forecasting, Aon Benfield’s catastrophe model development team, reported costs well into the billions from natural disasters in the U.S., Ecuador, Japan, Uruguay, China, Myanmar, and other locations. Earthquakes, severe storms, agricultural losses, flooding and other natural disasters combined to make it the most costly April in five years.

Two major earthquakes in three days

Two massive earthquakes shook different ends of the globe within a three-day span last month, resulting in a least 726 total deaths.

A magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Japan on April 14, and another magnitude-6.2 quake hit the country shortly thereafter. The two Japan quakes resulted in 66 deaths, more than 4,000 people injured and at least $10 billion in economic losses. According to Impact Forecasting, total insured losses in Japan due to the earthquakes are expected to surpass $2 billion.

A deadly magnitude-7.8 earthquake hit Ecuador on April 16, resulting in 660 deaths and more than 17,600 people injured. The cities of Manta, Guayaquil, Muisne, and Portoviejo were hardest hit, and Impact Forecasting projects total economic losses to exceed $3 billion.

Severe weather in the U.S.

At least five distinct severe storms impacted different regions of the U.S. during April. The Plains, Midwest, Southeast and Mid-Atlantic all experienced extreme weather that included tornadoes, severe straight-line winds and large hail. According to Impact Forecasting, aggregate economic losses from the severe storms is tentatively estimated to exceed $4 billion, with public and private insurers likely to face aggregate losses in the neighborhood of $3 billion.

Texas had a particularly rough month, with the Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio metro regions experiencing the costliest insured hail event in state history, and the Houston region getting hit with extensive flash flooding that led to at least 1,800 water rescues.

Floods in Argentina

Excessive rains led to flooding across Argentina, which hit the agriculture industry hard. According to the report, at least $1.3 billion in agriculture losses were sustained in Argentina in April, led by substantial damage to the country’s soybean crop.

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.