Weather disasters occur almost daily, becoming more frequent: UN

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GENEVA (Reuters) - Weather-related disasters such as floods and heatwaves have occurred almost daily in the past decade, almost twice as often as two decades ago, with Asia being the hardest hit region, a U.N. report said on Monday.

While the report authors could not pin the increase wholly on climate change, they did say that the upward trend was likely to continue as extreme weather events increased.

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Since 1995, weather disasters have killed 606,000 people, left 4.1 billion injured, homeless or in need of aid, and accounted for 90 percent of all disasters, it said.

A recent peak year was 2002, when drought in India hit 200 million and a sandstorm in China affected 100 million. But the standout mega-disaster was Cyclone Nargis, which killed 138,000 in Myanmar in 2008.

While geophysical causes such as earthquakes, volcanoes and tsunamis often grab the headlines, they only make up one in 10 of the disasters trawled from a database defined by the impact.

The report, called "The Human Cost of Weather Related Disasters", found there were an average of 335 weather-related disasters annually between 2005 and August this year, up 14 percent from 1995-2004 and almost twice as many as in the years from 1985 to 1994.

"While scientists cannot calculate what percentage of this rise is due to climate change, predictions of more extreme weather in future almost certainly mean that we will witness a continued upward trend in weather-related disasters in the decades ahead," the report said.

See the worst natural disasters in U.S. history:

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Worst U.S. natural disasters
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Weather disasters occur almost daily, becoming more frequent: UN
16th July 1937: Early morning whirlwinds rising from finely tilled, eroded dusty soil in Walla Walla County, Washington. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JULY 16: A Cook County medical examiner pushes a gurney 16 July carrying the body of one of 116 people killed by heat related causes in Chicago after record hot weather hit the Midwest for several days in a row. The death toll could rise to about 300 because many of the victims were not dicovered until after the worst weather had passed and are being stored in refrigerated tractor trailers. AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP/Getty Images)
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The release of the report comes a week before world leaders gather in Paris to discuss plans to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prevent world temperatures rising.

The United Nations says atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas that causes global warming, have risen to a new record every year for the past 30 years.

"All we can say is that certain disaster types are increasing. Floods are definitely increasing," said Debarati Guha-Sapir, professor at the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters at UCL University in Louvain, Belgium, which co-authored the report.

"Whether it's increasing due to global warming, I think it's safe to say the jury's out on that. But rather than focus on the ifs, whys and wherefores, I think we should focus on how to manage floods."

Margareta Wahlstrom, head of the U.N. Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said floods were not just caused by heavy rain but also by poorly planned construction.

UNISDR estimates natural disasters of all types cause losses of $250 billion-$300 billion globally each year.

The report drew on a database of weather events that defines an event as a disaster if 10 or more people are killed, 100 or more are affected, a state of emergency is declared, or if there is a call for international assistance.

The countries hit by the highest number of weather-related disasters over the past decade were the United States, with 472, China with 441, India with 288, the Philippines with 274 and Indonesia with 163.

RELATED: Recent November weather across the U.S.

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Recent weather across the U.S., November
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Weather disasters occur almost daily, becoming more frequent: UN
SANTA ANA, CA., NOVEMBER 9, 2015: Sarad Lopez (cq) holds an umbrella while her mother shops on Fourth Steet in Santa Ana during a light rain November 9, 2015 (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
SANTA ANA, CA., NOVEMBER 9, 2015: Keisha Flores holds her umbrella while she shops on Fourth Steet in Santa Ana during a light rain November 9, 2015 (Mark Boster/ Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: A plane flys above the Tidal Basin on a warm evening November 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Unseasonably warm weather in the Eastern U.S. has made the first few days of November feel more like late Summer. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Leaves change color on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, November 4, 2015. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: A woman rides a bicycle around the Tidal Basin on a warm evening November 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Unseasonably warm weather in the Eastern U.S. has made the first few days of November feel more like late Summer. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
People walk along Times Square in New York on November 6, 2015. New York recorded its hottest November 6 in nearly 70 years, as skaters splashed through puddles on a much-loved ice rink and commuters strolled around in T-shirts. AFP PHOTO/ JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
A woman has an ice-cream on a cone as she walks along a street in New York on November 6, 2015. New York recorded its hottest November 6 in nearly 70 years, as skaters splashed through puddles on a much-loved ice rink and commuters strolled around in T-shirts. AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 06: A helicopter flies above the Tidal Basin on a warm evening November 6, 2015 in Washington, DC. Unseasonably warm weather in the Eastern U.S. has made the first few days of November feel more like late Summer. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
JACKSON, MS - NOVEMBER 07: Volunteers exit the course after play was called due to inclement weather during a continuation of the second round of the Sanderson Farms Championship at The Country Club of Jackson on November 7, 2015 in Jackson, Mississippi. (Photo by Michael Cohen/Getty Images)
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2015: Snow making in full force after a fall Sierra Nevada storm dropped nearly a foot of snow at Mammoth Mountain and less in town in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2015.(Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2015: A bike rose rides through snow in town after a fall Sierra Nevada storm dropped nearly a foot of snow at Mammoth Mountain and less in town in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2015.(Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIF. -- TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 3, 2015: A fall Sierra Nevada storm dropped nearly a foot of snow at Mammoth Mountain and snowmaking is piling on in anticipation of a November 5 opening day in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., on Nov. 3, 2015.(Photo by Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 30: Residents of the Onion Creek neighborhood were evacuated in the morning October 30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. After Hurricane Patricia's passing last week, the region was hit with more torrential rain and possible tornadoes. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 30: Residents of the Onion Creek neighborhood were evacuated in the morning October 30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. After Hurricane Patricia's passing last week, the region was hit with more torrential rain and possible tornadoes. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - OCTOBER 30: Residents of the Onion Creek neighborhood were evacuated in the morning October 30, 2015 in Austin, Texas. After Hurricane Patricia's passing last week, the region was hit with more torrential rain and possible tornadoes. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)
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