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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Catastrophes in 2003

According to updated figures from Swiss Re, 60,000 people worldwide were killed by natural and man-made catastrophes in 2003. Over two-thirds of these were the victims of earthquakes. According to the latest sigma report published in March, overall economic losses from catastrophes in 2003 amounted to an estimated $70bn. Property insurers across the globe had to contend with losses of some $18.5bn.

There were 380 catastrophes registered in 2003 in which almost 60,000 people lost their lives. The number of fatalities has risen substantially from when sigma published preliminary figures at the end of last year and is now considered the seventh highest in over 30 years. The most tragic disaster in terms of loss of life was the December earthquake in the Iranian city of Bam in which 41,000 people were killed. Globally, the earthquake was the fourth largest in terms of victims since 1970. In addition, the earthquake which hit the region of Boumerdès in northern Algeria during May claimed the lives of 2,260 victims.

The sigma study ‘Natural and man-made catastrophes 2003’ is available from Swiss Re’s website www.swissre.com/sigma.