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Perils AG has initially estimated insured property losses for a fatal flood event that affected northern Queensland, Australia, in January and February at AU$957 million ($675.9 million).
The loss estimate covers the property line of business only, excluding motor and other lines of business, the Zurich-based catastrophe loss data company said in a statement on Friday.
The Townsville floods were the result of a slow-moving monsoon system which brought exceptional rainfall to northern Queensland in late January and early February, according to Perils. For the city of Townsville, the accumulated rainfall totals from consecutive days were the highest since records began in 1888.
The resulting surface and river flooding caused devastation in rural northern Queensland and major losses in the city of Townsville, where flooding by the Ross and Bohle rivers resulted in severe damage to thousands of homes, businesses and public infrastructure, the company noted. Flooding in Townsville was further exacerbated by the opening of the spillway gates of the Ross River Dam as the reservoir’s capacity exceeded 200%.
Four people drowned in the flood waters and two people died from bacterial infection caused by soil-borne bacteria stirred up by flood waters, according to Perils.
“Given the record-breaking amount of rain which fell over North Queensland from 26 January to 10 February, it is no surprise that extensive flooding occurred from overflowing rivers and surface water run-off,” Darryl Pidcock, head of Perils Asia-Pacific based in Sydney, said in the statement. “After 1998, 1953 and 1946, this is the fourth time in the last 100 years that the Townsville region has been affected by severe floods.”
An updated estimate of the market loss from the Townsville floods will be made available on April 26, three months after the event start date.
Heatwaves triggered power outages across Australia and forced the Australian Energy Market Operator Ltd. to cut power to U.S.-based Alcoa Corp's aluminum smelter in Portland on Jan. 24 and Jan. 25., Reuters reported citing sources. Jodie Read, spokeswoman for Alcoa said that the company will not be compensated for the curtailment.