Subj: Natural disasters at record level in 2000
Date: 12/28/00 2:49:44 PM Pacific Standard Time

December 28, 2000

Natural disasters at record level in 2000
MUNICH (Reuters) - The world was hit by a record number of natural
disasters in 2000 and global warming and a rising population are likely
to make future years even worse, the world's largest reinsurer said

Munich Re said the number of what it categorizes as natural disasters
rose by more than 100 to 850 in 2000, although the number of deaths was
much lower than in 1999 because less populated areas were affected. It
said 10,000 people died as a result of natural disasters in 2000
compared to 75,000 in 1999. Material damage was put at more than $30
billion in 2000.

"Accounting for the growth in world population and the rise in the
concentration of property values, the losses caused by natural disasters
must be expected to continue to rise in the future," Munich Re said.
"Global warming has to be slowed down. Otherwise the risk situation for
insurers in many of the world's regions will intensify," said Gerhard
Berz, head of its geo-science research group.

Munich Re said that since only $7.5 billion of the estimated damage
caused by natural disasters in 2000 had been covered by insurance, it
had actually been a relatively inexpensive year for policy underwriters.
Storms were clearly at the top of the list of disasters, accounting for
73 percent of all insured losses, while floods accounted for 23 percent
of insured losses.

Flooding which hit Mozambique in February making half a million people
homeless was the year's biggest catastrophe. A series of devastating
forest fires in the United States was the other major disaster, causing
losses of more than $1 billion despite the fact that relatively few
houses caught fire. Dry weather and drought in Europe caused losses of
more than $300 million when a severe heat wave in May and June destroyed
crops in southeast Europe, particularly in Romania.

The cyclone season in the Pacific and North Atlantic produced a typical
number of hurricanes and typhoons and cyclones, it said. The countries
affected came off relatively lightly.