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Disasters killed more than 238,000 people in 2008

Geneva (AFP)
Catastrophes killed more than 238,000 people this year, with cyclone Nargis which swept through Myanmar accounting for more than half the deaths, a study by reinsurer Swiss Re showed on Thursday.

"While the total cost to society was 225 billion dollars (182 billion euros), 50 billion dollars was covered by property insurance, making 2008 the second costliest year ever in terms of insured losses," the world's biggest reinsurer said.

The worst year of natural and man-made catastrophes was 2005, with 374,042 people killed and 107 billion dollars in insured losses.

Cyclone Nargis accounted for the most fatalities in 2008, and the earthquake in Sichuan, China was the second most serious, killing 87,449 people.

"Most of the losses from these two events were not insured," added Swiss Re.

Hurricanes Ike and Gustav which hit the United States and the Caribbean were the most costly for insurers which carried affected insured risks of 24 million dollars.

The United Nations disaster management agency in October estimated that more than 230,000 people were killed by disasters during the first half of the year, with the economic cost reaching 35 billion dollars.

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