Special Report

The Most Costly Natural Disasters of All Time

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5. Drought
> Region: Africa
> Economic losses: $1.5 billion
> Year: 2015
> Country: Ethiopia

Each year, Ethiopian farmers depend on the rain to fertilize their pastures in the fertile central and eastern parts of the country. In 2015, however, the rains never came during the usual rainy season of February to May. The parched land failed to produce crops, leaving some 10 million needing emergency food assistance.

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4. Storm (Emilie)
> Region: Africa
> Economic losses: $1.5 billion
> Year: 1977
> Country: Madagascar

Although the 1976-77 South-West Indian Ocean cyclone season was below average, Tropical Storm Emilie hit the east coast of Mozambique and northeastern South Africa in February 1977. Heavy flooding killed 300 people. Madagascar is an island off the coast of Mozambique.

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3. Flood
> Region: Africa
> Economic losses: $1.7 billion
> Year: 1987
> Country: South Africa

Heavier than usual rainfalls in the Natal and Greater Durban region of South Africa produced mudslides and severe flooding that took the lives of 380 people and caused significant property damage in Durban. The rain occurred over four days in September 1987.

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2. Storm (Idai)
> Region: Africa
> Economic losses: $2.0 billion
> Year: 2019
> Country: Mozambique

One of the worst tropical storms to emerge in the South-West Indian Ocean, Cyclone Idai left more than 1,300 people dead in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. The March 2019 storm also led to a humanitarian crisis in the region, with hundreds of thousands in need of assistance.

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1. Drought
> Region: Africa
> Economic losses: $2.0 billion
> Year: 1990
> Country: South Africa

South Africa has a history of droughts that affect crop production and lead to food scarcity.