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U.N. Study: Natural Disasters Caused 600,000 Deaths Over 20 Years

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Natural disasters have killed more than 600,000 people and left behind trillions of dollars in damages in the last two decades, the United Nations said Monday.

Hundreds of floods, storms, heat waves and droughts have left about 606,000 people dead and 4.1 billion injured or homeless around the world since 1995, according to a U.N. report.

The extreme weather-related calamities also caused nearly $2 trillion in economic losses.

The figures were released ahead of a landmark climate change conference set to take place in France.

Roughly 335 weather-related catastrophes were recorded each year between 2005 and 2014, the report said.

The five countries hit the hardest were the United States, China, India, Philippines and Indonesia, according to the report.

The U.N. found that floods made up half of the recorded disasters, resulting in 157,000 deaths. Storms killed 242,000 people, mostly in poor countries, while heat waves accounted for 148,000 deaths.

Asia saw the highest number of human losses with 332,000 deaths. Almost half of them were caused in 2008 by Cyclone Nargis, the worst natural disaster to hit Myanmar.

U.N. officials warned death tolls would only rise if greenhouse gas emissions are not reduced.

“Weather and climate are major drivers of disaster risk and this report demonstrates that the world is paying a high price in lives lost,” Margareta Wahlström, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, said in a statement.

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