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Sept. 11 leads year of costly disasters

©Associated Press
December 21, 2001

ZURICH, Switzerland -- Major natural and manmade catastrophes have caused $115-billion in losses so far this year, largely because of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, a major insurer said Thursday.

More than 33,000 people have died as the result of disasters in 2001, almost half of those in an earthquake in India, said a study by the Swiss Reinsurance Co.

The attacks cost an estimated $90-billion, of which $19-billion was insured, Swiss Re said. As a result, 2001 will be the third-largest year for insurance losses since the company started keeping records in 1970.

"At over $115-billion, the economic losses are more than three times the average for the 1990s," said Swiss Re, whose annual studies of the global cost of disasters calculate both the insured losses and the total economic losses.

The attacks represented easily the single-largest insurance loss for a manmade disaster, Swiss Re said. The next most expensive was the explosion on the Piper Alpha drilling platform in the North Sea in 1988, which cost an inflation-adjusted $3-billion.

Billion-dollar losses were also caused by the Code Red computer worm and the explosion of a drilling platform off the coast of Brazil.

The biggest ever insurance loss was caused by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, which cost the insurance industry $20.2-billion at today's prices.

Highest casualties

1. Jan. 26: Earthquake in Gujurat, India: more than 15,500 dead.

2. Sept. 11: Terrorist attacks in New York and Washington: Just under 3,000 dead and missing. 3. Nov. 10: Torrential rains and flooding in Algeria: 886.

4. Jan 13: Earthquake in Central America: 844.

5. Oct. 20: Boat carrying refugees sinks off Indonesia: 350.

Costliest catastrophes

1. Sept. 11: Terrorist attacks in New York and Washington: $19-billion ($90-billion estimated overall loss).

2. June 5: Tropical Storm Allison hits the United States: $2.5-billion.

3. April 8: Flooding, hail and tornadoes in the United States: $1.9-billion.

4. Sept. 21: Explosion at fertilizer factory in Toulouse, France: $600-million.

5. Sept. 17: Typhoon Nari hits Japan and Taiwan: $500-million.

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