Natural disasters in first half of 2023 rack up $194b price tag

Deadly earthquakes in Turkey and Syria earlier this year were followed by the Morocco earthquake, floods in Libya, and an extreme heatwave in Europe, which will further drive costs up

Diana Estefana Rubio

Natural disasters in first half of 2023 rack up $194b price tag

The first half of 2023 saw a surge in natural disasters, preliminarily estimated at $194b, with the fifth-highest economic impact on record and the highest since 2011.

This was driven mainly by the destructive February earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, which became modern history's 11th deadliest global disaster. Losses are expected to rise further following the Morocco earthquake, the Darna floods in Libya, and other natural disasters that took place in the third quarter of this year.

The heatwave across western, southern and central Europe was the deadliest catastrophe in 2022, with 15,450 reported deaths. Hurricane Katrina has been one of the costliest disasters in the world, costing the insurance industry some $82.4b. It’s topped only by the earthquake/tsunami which hit Japan in 2011.

The resilience of societies against catastrophes has been boosted by insurance industry payouts, notably in industrialised countries. In emerging and developing regions, disaster insurance coverage is still limited. Governments in these regions do not have enough money to rebuild after a natural disaster and therefore rely on foreign aid.

Climate change has influenced the prevalence of natural disasters. It can raise the risk of extreme weather, droughts and an increased strength of storms, such as tropical cyclones.

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