UN: 2011 Disasters Costliest In History With Minimum Price Tag Of $380 billion

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The economic cost of disasters in 2011 was the highest in history — costing at least $380 billion, mainly due to earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand, a U.N. envoy said Monday.

Margareta Wahlstrom, the secretary-general's special representative for disaster risk reduction, said the figure was two-thirds higher than the previous record in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the southern United States.

In addition to the earthquakes, Wahlstrom said major floods in Thailand and other countries caused extensive damage.

Despite the rising costs, she said, deaths from disasters are proportionally declining because countries are getting much better at instituting early warning systems and preparedness measures.

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