MUNICH (dpa-AFX) - Natural catastrophes have caused global losses of $110 billion in the first half of the year, according to calculations by Munich Re. That was slightly less than in the first half of 2022, according to a statement from the reinsurer on Thursday, but well above the average of $98 billion over the past decade.

So far this year, the most severe natural disaster was the earthquake in the Turkish-Syrian border region, which claimed an estimated 58,000 lives and caused $40 billion in damage in February. The devastating quake is also the main reason that the number of fatalities caused by natural catastrophes rose to 62,000 in the first half of the year, the highest number since 2010, according to Munich Re.

In second place are very high losses from severe thunderstorms and tornadoes in the U.S., totaling $35 billion. "Meanwhile, losses from severe thunderstorms in the U.S. of this magnitude appear to be normal and no longer an outlier," the company wrote in its statement.

Earthquakes are not related to climate, but storms are. "The first half of 2023 was already marked by record temperatures in many regions of the world, very high water temperatures in various ocean basins, droughts in parts of Europe, for example, or extreme forest fires in northeastern Canada," said Ernst Rauch, the company's chief geoscientist. Munich Re has been documenting natural catastrophes worldwide for decades, as this is an important basis for calculating insurance premiums./cho/DP/jha