Asia and Australasia endured their share of both natural and man-made catastrophes in 2014 with 23 percent of estimated global insured losses in 2014. Notable events in the region included the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 in the first quarter and the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 near Indonesia in December.
In the Northwest Pacific Basin, no new tropical cyclones developed in the month of August, which has not occurred in the last 60 years (although Typhoon Halong originated in late July). Tropical cyclone counts were also below average for the season at large. Nevertheless, five tropical cyclones affected China. Of the five, Typhoon Rammasun made landfall in Southeast China as the strongest typhoon to hit the region since 1973 - a Category 4 storm on the Saffir-Simpson scale. Rammasun brought heavy rainfall, flooding and wind impacts to China, Vietnam and the Philippines. Estimated insured losses from Rammasun were USD250 million,(1) with estimated economic losses of USD4.6 billion.(2) In the Philippines, Typhoon Hagupit made landfall in December, rendering severe impacts to the same areas affected by Haiyan in 2013, but with far fewer fatalities. Further west, Cyclone Hudhud impacted the India regions of Andhra Pradesh as well as Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh, with impacts from heavy rainfall, flooding and wind. Economic losses were estimated at around USD11 billion,(3) with insured losses of USD530 million.(4)
In the month of September, catastrophic and tragic flooding affected the Jammu and Kashmir regions on the India-Pakistan border. The floods were the result of excessive rainfall exceeding 300 millimeters (11.8 inches) over a widespread area, driven by interaction between a monsoon trough and another mid-latitude weather system. Local rainfall amounts exceeded 400 millimeters (15.7 inches), believed to be the heaviest in 50 years, according to media reports. The flooding caused severe disruption to transportation, local infrastructure, trade, agriculture and the local population. Unofficial reports indicated economic losses on the order of USD16 billion and insured losses of around USD645 million.(5)
Further south in Australia, the Brisbane area was affected by a strong supercell thunderstorm in November. The storm produced baseball-sized hail, strong winds and heavy rainfall inflicting widespread damage across the area, including the Brisbane business district. Insured losses were reported on the order of USD820 million.(6)
The year closed with the onset of significant flooding in Thailand and West Malaysia. The flooding was the result of heavy monsoon rains that began in mid-December. Thousands of homes were damaged and tens of thousands of people were displaced as a result. It is still too early to determine the full scope and impact of this event.
The most costly event affecting the Asia region was a result of two significant snowstorms in Japan early in the year. The snowstorms caused hundreds of thousands of power outages and a number of fatalities and injuries. Operations at notable businesses including Suzuki, Honda and Toyota were disrupted. One storm brought 27 centimeters (10.6 inches) of snow to Tokyo, the most significant snowfall in 45 years, according to media reports. The snowstorms resulted in around USD3.1 billion in insured losses.(7)
1. Munich Re NatCat Service, “10 Costliest Disasters 2014″ January 2015.
2. Munich Re NatCat Service, “10 Costliest Disasters 2014″ January 2015.
3. Munich Re NatCat Service, “10 Costliest Disasters 2014″ January 2015.
4. Munich Re NatCat Service, “10 Costliest Disasters 2014″ January 2015.
5. Guy Carpenter, 2014 Asia Pacific Catastrophe report.
6. Insurance Council of Australia media release, January 15, 2015.
7. Munich Re press release, January 7, 2015.