updated 12/14/2007 1:23:12 PM ET 2007-12-14T18:23:12

Disasters killed fewer people and caused less financial damage around the world last year than in 2005, the International Red Cross said in a report Thursday, but also warned that the number of storms and floods is on the rise because of climate change.

Some 34,000 people died in 724 disasters last year, compared with more than 100,000 people who lost their lives a year earlier, the Red Cross said in its annual report.

Most lost their lives in natural disasters, the report said, with the worst single incident being the May 2006 earthquakes in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, in which almost 6,000 people perished.

Technological disasters such as industrial accidents, air crashes and building collapses killed fewer than 10,000 people last year.

The report put the overall cost of disasters at $34.5 billion, a sharp drop on 2005 when Hurricane Katrina struck the United States, contributing a large amount of the estimated $210 billion in disaster damage that year.

The report also noted that more than two thirds of natural disasters last year were caused by floods and other weather events, and warned that there is growing evidence to indicate that the number of such disasters will increase due to climate change.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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