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2017 smashes world record for natural disaster-insured loss

News agency

Tuesday, April 10, 2018, 8:41 PM - Swiss Re estimated that global insured losses from catastrophes in 2017 hit $144 billion USD, the most ever, the company said on Tuesday.

The figure is an upward revision from an earlier tally in December, when the reinsurer estimated $136 in insured losses.

North America was particularly hard hit, with Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria resulting in combined insured losses of $92 billion, equal to 0.5 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, Swiss Re said.

Hurricane Harvey is the second-most expensive hurricane on record, next to Katrina. It was the first major hurricane (category 3 or stronger) to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005. The storm killed 68 people, with the majority being flood-related deaths.

FILE PHOTO: A condominium complex is reduced to rubble after Hurricane Harvey struck in Rockport, Texas, U.S., August 26, 2017. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

Irma started on August 27 off the coast of Africa. The catastrophic hurricane made seven landfalls, four of which occurred at Category 5 strength across the northern Caribbean Islands. The storm caused 44 direct deaths in total.

Maria struck Puerto Rico's southeast coast on September 20. It is the sixth fastest intensifying hurricane on record. The storm destroyed at least 70,000 homes and resulted in $90 billion in damage. While the official death count is at 65, experts warn hundreds more will likely be added upon an official government assessment.

Altogether, the 2017 Hurricane season was a busy one with a total of 17 named storms, ranking alongside 1936 as the fifth-most active season since records began in 1851.

Meanwhile, insured losses from wildfires totalled $14 billion in 2017, the most ever in one year, the reinsurer said.

The 2017 wildfire season in Canada has been deemed the worst on record. In British Columbia, over 1.2 million hectares were scorched. The season also brought the longest state of emergency in the province's history at 10 weeks.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Maria Sheahan)

-- Additional reporting from Leeanna McLean

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