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Natural catastrophes cause $27 billion in insured losses in first half

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Insured losses from natural catastrophes were $27 billion for the first half of 2016, up from $19 billion a year earlier, according to statistics released Tuesday by Munich Reinsurance Co.

Overall, losses from natural catastrophes in the first half of 2016 totaled $70 billion, up from $59 billion in the first half of 2015, Munich Re said in a statement.

The German reinsurer said that the largest losses stemmed from earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador in April, storms in Europe and the United States and wildfires in Canada.

Two earthquakes on the Japanese island of Kyushu in April alone caused $25 billion in damages, of which $6 billion were insured, Munich Re said.

During the first half of 2016, 3,800 people died in natural catastrophes, significantly fewer than the 21,000 who died in the first half of 2015, according to Munich Re.

“These events clearly show the importance of loss prevention, such as protection against flash floods or the construction of earthquake-resistant buildings in high-risk areas,” Torsten Jeworrek, board member with responsibility for reinsurance at Munich Re, said in the statement. “The good news is that improved building codes and a more intelligent approach by emergency services and authorities offer people a much better protection than used to be the case.”