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Disasters cost $268 billion in 2022: Swiss Re

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Natural and man-made catastrophes have caused $268 billion of economic losses so far in 2022, chiefly driven by Hurricane Ian and other extreme weather disasters, reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated Thursday.

Insured losses covered $122 billion — less than half — of the total economic losses to date this year, said the Zurich-based group, which acts as an insurer for insurers.

“Hurricane Ian and other extreme weather events such as the winter storms in Europe, flooding in Australia and South Africa as well as hailstorms in France and in the United States resulted in an estimated $115 billion of natural catastrophe insured losses this year to date,” Swiss Re said in a statement.

There were $7 billion of insured losses from man-made disasters.

It is the second consecutive year in which total insured losses from natural catastrophes topped $100 billion, with the figure hitting $121 billion last year.

“Urban development, wealth accumulation in disaster-prone areas, inflation and climate change are key factors at play, turning extreme weather into ever rising natural catastrophe losses,” explained Martin Bertogg, Swiss Re’s head of catastrophe perils.

“When Hurricane Andrew struck 30 years ago, a $20 billion loss event had never occurred before; now there have been seven such hurricanes in just the past six years.”

Hurricane Ian is by far the largest loss-causing event in 2022, with an estimated insured loss of $50-65 billion, said Swiss Re.

It estimated that Hurricane Ian caused the second-costliest insured loss ever, after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Neighbourhoods flattened

Ian, a category four hurricane, caused more than 150 deaths, almost all in Florida, where it made landfall on September 28.

One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the United States, it flattened whole neighbourhoods and knocked out power for millions of people. Storm surges and immense downpours left even inland neighbourhoods submerged.

“This highlights the threat potential of a single hurricane hitting a densely populated coastline,” Swiss Re said.

The reinsurer added that so-called secondary natural disasters such as floods and hailstorms — as opposed to major disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes — caused more than $50 billion of insured losses.

The storms in Europe in February prompted estimated insured losses of over $3.7 billion, putting winter storms back on the insurance industry’s agenda, Swiss Re said.

France experienced the most severe hailstorms ever observed in the European spring and summer, with insured market losses reaching an estimated five billion euros ($5.3 billion), said Swiss Re.

And in Australia in February and March, torrential summer rains led to widespread flooding that, at an estimated $4 billion, became the country’s costliest-ever natural catastrophe.

‘Vast’ protection gap

Swiss Re highlighted how the insurance and reinsurance industry covered roughly only 45 percent of the economic losses so far this year.

“The protection gap remains vast,” said Thierry Leger, the group’s chief underwriting officer.

Of the estimated $268 billion total economic losses for property damage so far this year, $260 billion are from natural catastrophes and $8 billion from man-made disasters, such as industrial accidents.

The $268 billion figure is down 12 percent from $303 billion last year, but above the $219 billion average over the previous 10 years.

At $115 billion, total insured losses from natural catastrophes were down five percent from the $121 billion in 2021, but well above the previous 10-year average of $81 billion.

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221202/disasters-cost-268-billion-in-2022-swiss-re/70296.html

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Thai cadets break world record with mass martial arts ritual

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Thousands of Thai army cadets, university students and a handful of volunteers performed a record-breaking Muay Thai “wai khru” ceremony on Monday, all under the watchful eyes of six massive statues of former kings.

The sunset gathering in Hua Hin, part of a Muay Thai Festival in the seaside resort town, broke the previous Guinness World Record of 250 by having 3,660 participants simultaneously performing the traditional pre-match dance of respect for their coach.

The sun had baked the sheets of concrete hot as the barefoot performers — organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Royal Thai Army, and the culture and sport ministries — filed onto the parade ground at Rajabhakti Park in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

Dressed in red uniforms with white Mongkhon headbands, as well as white Muay Kard Chuek ropes — the hemp wrappings fighters wore before gloves — the phalanx of men moved in near perfect unison to the directions of famed Muay Thai fighter Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.

“Congratulations, you’re officially amazing,” said the official Guinness adjudicator, confirming the record had been broken.

“I feel really proud,” said 27-year-old performer Phukrit Purimchaithanat, adding he and his fellow-cadets were glad they had pulled it off after months of preparations.

A mix of bemused locals and tourists passing through the popular resort watched the spectacle from a few rickety metal bleachers, gathering around the sides of the fenced area as a loudspeaker blared.

“It’s stunning, it’s crazy, also in front of the kings and everything,” said Hua Hin resident Siena Cruz, 32, as she enjoyed the show with friends.

“The visual is something connected to the tradition,” she said, noting how integral the pre-match ritual was to the sport.

“To be part of another bit of history for Thailand, it’s bragging rights,” she said of the Guinness record.

“I like to watch, but boxing is scary,” said June Rubyung, who had taken her grandson to watch the performance.

The 50-year-old Hua Hin local, who lives close to the army grounds where they performed, said she knew the army cadets had been practising for a month.

“I think they’re good,” she said, “they do it the correct way.”

Thousands of Thai army cadets, university students and a handful of volunteers performed a record-breaking Muay Thai “wai khru” ceremony on Monday, all under the watchful eyes of six massive statues of former kings.

The sunset gathering in Hua Hin, part of a Muay Thai Festival in the seaside resort town, broke the previous Guinness World Record of 250 by having 3,660 participants simultaneously performing the traditional pre-match dance of respect for their coach.

The sun had baked the sheets of concrete hot as the barefoot performers — organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Royal Thai Army, and the culture and sport ministries — filed onto the parade ground at Rajabhakti Park in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

Dressed in red uniforms with white Mongkhon headbands, as well as white Muay Kard Chuek ropes — the hemp wrappings fighters wore before gloves — the phalanx of men moved in near perfect unison to the directions of famed Muay Thai fighter Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.

“Congratulations, you’re officially amazing,” said the official Guinness adjudicator, confirming the record had been broken.

“I feel really proud,” said 27-year-old performer Phukrit Purimchaithanat, adding he and his fellow-cadets were glad they had pulled it off after months of preparations.

A mix of bemused locals and tourists passing through the popular resort watched the spectacle from a few rickety metal bleachers, gathering around the sides of the fenced area as a loudspeaker blared.

“It’s stunning, it’s crazy, also in front of the kings and everything,” said Hua Hin resident Siena Cruz, 32, as she enjoyed the show with friends.

“The visual is something connected to the tradition,” she said, noting how integral the pre-match ritual was to the sport.

“To be part of another bit of history for Thailand, it’s bragging rights,” she said of the Guinness record.

“I like to watch, but boxing is scary,” said June Rubyung, who had taken her grandson to watch the performance.

The 50-year-old Hua Hin local, who lives close to the army grounds where they performed, said she knew the army cadets had been practising for a month.

“I think they’re good,” she said, “they do it the correct way.”

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/thai-cadets-break-world-record-with-mass-martial-arts-ritual/71375.html

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2 Vietnamese fishermen missing off S.Korean coast after shipwreck

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The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that a fishing boat capsized off the coast of Sinan County in Jeonnam Province, leaving nine out of its 12 crew members missing, including two Vietnamese citizens, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea.

The South Korean side discovered four bodies whose nationalities were unidentified on Monday, two days after the incident happened. 

The search is still ongoing.

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea contacted the families of the two missing Vietnamese citizens to inform them of the situation.

The embassy is actively working with competent South Korean agencies to promptly conduct necessary citizen protection measures.

Local authorities are currently providing assistance to the missing fishermen’s families.

Earlier, Yonhap news agency reported that the shipwreck occurred at 11:19 pm on Saturday. 

Authorities said the 24-metric-ton fishing boat capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea, 16.6km from the uninhabited island of Daebichi that lies some 20km from the southwestern county of Sinan.

The sinking left nine of the 12 people, including three foreign nationals, on board the ship missing, while the other three were rescued by another boat at the scene.

The cause of the accident has not been announced.

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The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that a fishing boat capsized off the coast of Sinan County in Jeonnam Province, leaving nine out of its 12 crew members missing, including two Vietnamese citizens, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea.

The South Korean side discovered four bodies whose nationalities were unidentified on Monday, two days after the incident happened. 

The search is still ongoing.

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea contacted the families of the two missing Vietnamese citizens to inform them of the situation.

The embassy is actively working with competent South Korean agencies to promptly conduct necessary citizen protection measures.

Local authorities are currently providing assistance to the missing fishermen’s families.

Earlier, Yonhap news agency reported that the shipwreck occurred at 11:19 pm on Saturday. 

Authorities said the 24-metric-ton fishing boat capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea, 16.6km from the uninhabited island of Daebichi that lies some 20km from the southwestern county of Sinan.

The sinking left nine of the 12 people, including three foreign nationals, on board the ship missing, while the other three were rescued by another boat at the scene.

The cause of the accident has not been announced.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/2-vietnamese-fishermen-missing-off-skorean-coast-after-shipwreck/71372.html

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Derailed train cars in Ohio drained of toxic chemical amid mass evacuation

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Nearly 2,000 residents of eastern Ohio remained under evacuation orders on Monday as railroad crews drained and burned off a toxic chemical from five tanker cars of a freight train that derailed in a fiery wreck three days earlier, officials said.

The venting of pressurized vinyl chloride, a highly flammable and carcinogenic gas, began with a single explosion, as was anticipated, followed by a steady incineration of the remaining cargo, said Sandy Mackey, a spokesperson for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

“That controlled release was the one explosion,” she told Reuters by telephone. “It went as planned. It seemed to be a successful incident.”

No injuries were reported, either from Monday’s operation or the accident on Friday night, authorities said.

Live video on Monday showed a towering column of thick, black smoke rising from the accident site in East Palestine, Ohio, a town close to the Pennsylvania border northwest of Pittsburgh.

The train, operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad and consisting of three locomotives and 150 freight cars, was headed from Illinois to Pennsylvania when it derailed shortly before 9 p.m. EST on Friday, setting off a massive fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the immediate vicinity.

About 50 cars actually left the tracks, 20 of which carried hazardous materials, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Public safety concerns deepened after the railroad said pressure-relief devices on some tankers were found on Sunday to have stopped working, which the company said could “result in a catastrophic failure.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement the chemical contents of the five rail cars in question were “unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes.”

Working with state and local emergency officials, Norfolk Southern said on Monday it devised a plan to manually vent the cars, allowing the contents to “be drained in a controlled fashion” under supervision of “experts and first responders.”

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

As part of the plan, DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro ordered evacuations expanded on Monday to encompass all homes within a 1- to 2-mile area around the derailment site on both sides of the state line.

Peggy Clark, a spokesperson for the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency, said the mandatory evacuation covered an estimated 1,900 people on the Ohio side alone.

DeWine’s office warned that fumes released into the air from the venting operation could be deadly if inhaled, while also posing the risk of skin burns and serious lung damage.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, industrially produced gas that burns easily and is used primarily in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and other products, according to the National Cancer Institute. It also is a byproduct of cigarette smoke.

The precise means by which crews vented the gas was not explained. But the railroad said workers had prepared drainage pits and embankments, apparently to contain residue from the release. State environmental officials monitored air quality, it said.

Nearly two hours after the operation began, the company said the “controlled breach” had been “completed successfully.”

The cause of the derailment was under investigation by the NTSB, but board member Michael Graham said on Sunday that video footage of the accident pointed to possible “mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles.”

Nearly 2,000 residents of eastern Ohio remained under evacuation orders on Monday as railroad crews drained and burned off a toxic chemical from five tanker cars of a freight train that derailed in a fiery wreck three days earlier, officials said.

The venting of pressurized vinyl chloride, a highly flammable and carcinogenic gas, began with a single explosion, as was anticipated, followed by a steady incineration of the remaining cargo, said Sandy Mackey, a spokesperson for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

“That controlled release was the one explosion,” she told Reuters by telephone. “It went as planned. It seemed to be a successful incident.”

No injuries were reported, either from Monday’s operation or the accident on Friday night, authorities said.

Live video on Monday showed a towering column of thick, black smoke rising from the accident site in East Palestine, Ohio, a town close to the Pennsylvania border northwest of Pittsburgh.

The train, operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad and consisting of three locomotives and 150 freight cars, was headed from Illinois to Pennsylvania when it derailed shortly before 9 p.m. EST on Friday, setting off a massive fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the immediate vicinity.

About 50 cars actually left the tracks, 20 of which carried hazardous materials, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Public safety concerns deepened after the railroad said pressure-relief devices on some tankers were found on Sunday to have stopped working, which the company said could “result in a catastrophic failure.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement the chemical contents of the five rail cars in question were “unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes.”

Working with state and local emergency officials, Norfolk Southern said on Monday it devised a plan to manually vent the cars, allowing the contents to “be drained in a controlled fashion” under supervision of “experts and first responders.”

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

As part of the plan, DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro ordered evacuations expanded on Monday to encompass all homes within a 1- to 2-mile area around the derailment site on both sides of the state line.

Peggy Clark, a spokesperson for the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency, said the mandatory evacuation covered an estimated 1,900 people on the Ohio side alone.

DeWine’s office warned that fumes released into the air from the venting operation could be deadly if inhaled, while also posing the risk of skin burns and serious lung damage.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, industrially produced gas that burns easily and is used primarily in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and other products, according to the National Cancer Institute. It also is a byproduct of cigarette smoke.

The precise means by which crews vented the gas was not explained. But the railroad said workers had prepared drainage pits and embankments, apparently to contain residue from the release. State environmental officials monitored air quality, it said.

Nearly two hours after the operation began, the company said the “controlled breach” had been “completed successfully.”

The cause of the derailment was under investigation by the NTSB, but board member Michael Graham said on Sunday that video footage of the accident pointed to possible “mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles.”

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/derailed-train-cars-in-ohio-drained-of-toxic-chemical-amid-mass-evacuation/71371.html

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