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Natural disasters cost world $4 tril. over last 3 decades

The most common cause: extreme weather.

Philippines typhoon haiyan aftermath nov 13 2Enlarge
(Kevin Frayer/AFP/Getty Images)

The world has lost more than 2.5 million people and almost $4 trillion to natural disasters over the last 30 years, the World Bank said in the latest report.

"Total reported losses from disasters are estimated at $3.8 trillion in this period with 74 percent due to extreme weather," according to the report released during the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP19) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

One of the main topics at the conference is to create an international framework, in which developed countries take the initiative in helping developing ones in the event of natural disasters caused by global warming.

"Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful typhoon ever to hit the Philippines, has brought into sharp focus how climate change is intensifying the severity of extreme weather events, which hurts the poor the most," said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim.

"While the immediate relief effort must be front and center of our attention today, such tragic events show that the world can no longer afford to put off action to slow greenhouse emissions, and help countries prepare for a world of greater climate and disaster risks."

The report also showed that global annual disaster losses exceeded $150 billion for three years in a row from 2010, compared with around $50 billion in the early 1980s.

As an example, the World Bank mentioned Hurricane Tomas that devastated the Caribbean island nation of St. Lucia in 2010 and wiped out the equivalent of 43 percent of its gross domestic product.

The extended 2008 to 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa, at its peak, left 13.3 million people facing food shortages and caused estimated total losses of $12.1 billion in Kenya alone, the World Bank added.

"In the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, the World Bank is working closely with the government of the Philippines and we stand ready to support the recovery and reconstruction effort in any way we can," the Washington-based institution said.