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An estimated 300 people have died in three months of torrential monsoon rains which have destroyed 400,000 homes, breached sewerage and freshwater canals and left two million people suffering from malaria, hepatitis and other sanitation-related diseases. Three-quarters of a million people are living in temporary shelters and seven thousand people have been bitten by snakes in the water. More than 21 million people fled their homes in the 2010 floods which left one fifth of Pakistan under water and killed an estimated 1000 people. According to aid agencies the impact of this year's flood is worse than last year because many of the victims have been forced abandon their homes for the second consecutive year, but a slow international relief effort is threatening to compound the suffering.
Even though we're barely halfway in, 2011 has stolen the dubious distinction of being the most expensive year for natural disasters in recorded history. That's according to a statement released yesterday by German insurer/reinsurer Munich Re, which does this sort of grim tally regularly.
A Bunyanesque grab bag of catastrophes makes 2011 the "highest-ever loss year on record," with about $265 billion in economic damages by the end of June. That mountainous figure whups the $220 billion of the previous costliest year, 2005, which welcomed in the amazingly destructive Hurricane Katrina. It's also five times greater than the first-half-year average for the last 10 years