potres indija india eartquake.jpg
Photograph: EPA/STR

About 23,000 people died in natural catastrophes over the course of 2015, more than triple the equivalent death toll in 2014, German reinsurance company Munich Re announced on Monday.

The dramatic increase from 7,700 deaths in 2014 is partly due to Nepal's worst earthquake on record, which saw 9,000 people killed and about 900,000 homes damaged or destroyed in April.

The figure was still less than half of the 30-year average death toll associated with natural catastrophes, which is 54,000, the insurer said.

The overall cost of the disasters dropped to 90 billion dollars from 110 billion dollars in 2014, with Munich Re pointing to El Nino climate conditions as a mitigating factor for hurricane activity in the North Atlantic.

The costliest natural catastrophe in 2015 was a series of storms in the north-east United States and Canada, which saw financial losses coming in at 2.8 billion dollars.

Only 27 billion dollars - just under third of the entire financial fallout - were covered by insurance in 2015.

"The proportion of damages that were insured in Nepal and other developing countries was still very small," said Munich Re board member Torsten Jeworrek, adding that the insurance industry was working towards new solutions to bridge this gap.

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