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Seasonal monsoon floods inflict US$20bn economic toll in Asia

August 8, 2020

An active monsoon season prompted more than $20bn in flood-related damage in parts of China, Japan, India and Bangladesh during the month alone. Much of the physical damage to property, infrastructure and agriculture was anticipated to be uninsured – only reinforcing the importance of finding ways to help lower the protection gap across the region.

Furthermore, persistent seasonal rainfall worsened the flood situation across China’s Yangtze River Basin during the month, with the death toll since 1 June rising to at least 175, as extensive flooding affected the hardest-hit provinces of Anhui, Hubei and Chongqing municipality.

The Ministry of Emergency Management (MEM) noted that nearly 500,000 homes had been damaged or destroyed and 5.2m ha of cropland affected. Direct seasonal economic losses were estimated at CNY150bn ($22bn), of which nearly $16bn occurred in July. Most of the losses were anticipated to be uninsured.

Other natural hazard events that occurred in Asia Pacific in July include:

  • Record-breaking rainfall triggered widespread flash flooding and landslides across southern Japan from 3-10 July, killing at least 82 people and injuring 114 others. Flood damage was most severe on Kyushu Island as dozens of prefectures reported varying levels of physical damage impacts to homes, businesses, infrastructure and agriculture. The event prompted a nearly $4bn recovery effort by the federal government.
  • Record-breaking rains, described as a 1-in-500-year event by the Meteorological Service of New Zealand, triggered flash flooding and landslides in northern and western New Zealand on 17-18 July. Thousands of homes and a vast area of agricultural land in Northland were inundated. Local authorities of New Zealand expected a multi-million-dollar level of direct damage and economic loss.


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