Destruction from Cyclone Amphan in Kolkata, India in May. Photo: Debajyoti Chakraborty/NurPhoto via Getty Images

New data indicates that the number of people killed in natural disasters in the first six months of 2020 was much lower than average figures over the past 30 years.

Why it matters: A combination of climate change and more people moving into risk-prone areas can intensify the effects of natural disasters. But better preparation and greater wealth can prevent deaths, even as the overall price of catastrophe rises.

Driving the news: The reinsurer Munich Re released data about the toll of natural disasters over the first six months of 2020.

  • While the financial losses were just slightly below the 30-year average over the same months, far fewer people than average 2,900 people total were killed by natural catastrophes.
  • That's 38% below the total from the first half of 2019, and nearly 90% below the 30-year average.
  • 2020's figures reflect a continued downward trend in deaths over the past few years.

Be smart: Much of what happens with natural disasters over a six-month window can be chalked up to randomness. But nimbler responses to disasters can reduce the number of deaths even in the event of a major catastrophe.

  • The biggest disaster so far in 2020 was Cyclone Amphan, which struck India in May. While the storm caused $11.5 billion in damages, only 135 people died — a number that likely would have been far higher decades ago.

Yes, but: The Atlantic hurricane season is nearing its peak months — and they're predicted to be busy. As the U.S. discovered in 2005 and 2012, one very bad storm can erase those positive trends.

Go deeper: Hurricane Hanna heads for southern Texas as Category 1

Go deeper

Hurricane Delta makes landfall in Louisiana as a "life-threatening" Category 2 storm

Photo: NOAA

Hurricane Delta made landfall near Creole, La., Friday evening as a Category 2 storm, the National Hurricane Center said.

State of play: Delta is lashing parts of Louisiana's southern coastline with "damaging winds" and a "life-threatening storm surge," the NHC added.

Updated Oct 11, 2020 - World

India surpasses 7 million coronavirus cases

A medical team with a patient at a COVID-19 care facility in New Delhi, India. Photo: Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto via Getty Images

India's Ministry of Health confirmed Sunday another 74,383 new coronavirus cases, taking the total number of COVID-19 infections in the country past 7 million.

Why it matters: India is the second country to report that 7 million people have tested positive for the virus after the U.S. — which has over 7.7 million cases, per Johns Hopkins. The country of almost 1.4 billion people is expected to surpass the number of U.S. cases in the coming days.

Updated 20 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Senate Democrats block vote on McConnell's targeted COVID relief bill McConnell urges White House not to strike stimulus deal before election.
  2. Economy: Why the stimulus delay isn't a crisis (yet).
  3. Health: New York reports most COVID cases since MayStudies show drop in coronavirus death rate — The next wave is gaining steam.
  4. Education: Schools haven't become hotspots — San Francisco public schools likely won't reopen before the end of the year.
  5. World: Spain becomes first nation in Western Europe to exceed 1 million cases.