Special Report

The Most Costly Natural Disasters of All Time

5. Flood
> Region: South America
> Economic losses: $3.2 billion
> Year: 2017
> Country: Peru

Battered by El Niño conditions, a pattern of unusual warming of the surface waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean, Peru withstood 10 times more rainfall than normal, causing overflowing rivers and mudslides. The storm destroyed roads and farms and took the lives of more than 70 people.

Source: Surachet1 / iStock via Getty Images

4. Drought
> Region: South America
> Economic losses: $3.4 billion
> Year: 2018
> Country: Argentina

Below average rainfall in southern South America caused a severe drought in parts of Argentina and Uruguay. The drought hit the Pampas region of Argentina particularly hard, with the country’s corn and soybean harvests impacted the most. The lack of rain was compounded by searing heat. Argentina’s GNP decreased roughly 0.8% due to the drought.

3. Flood
> Region: South America
> Economic losses: $4.9 billion
> Year: 1999
> Country: Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

In December 1999, torrential rains in the mountainous regions of Venezuela triggered devastating mudslides. Estimates put the death toll at between 10,000 and 30,000, with some 190,000 torn from their homes.

Source: Victor Moriyama / Getty Images News via Getty Images

2. Drought
> Region: South America
> Economic losses: $5.3 billion
> Year: 2014
> Country: Brazil

Southeast Brazil, including the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were parched by the worst drought in 100 years. Residents suffered occasional water shutoffs. Fortunately, heavy rains in late 2015 and early 2016 brought a measure of relief.

Source: David Silverman / Getty Images

1. Drought
> Region: South America
> Economic losses: $9.0 billion
> Year: 1978
> Country: Brazil

In 1978, Brazil experienced another damaging drought. What made it more devastating is that the drought hit the country’s fertile region, with farmers suffering crop losses, especially for Brazil’s main exports — coffee and soybeans.

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