The Swiss Re insurance research report 'Natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2015' provides useful insight and commentary on the blasts at the Port of Tianjin in August last year. The report anticipates this incident to be the biggest insured loss of 2015, with property loss estimated at between US$2.5 and US$3.5 billion. On the basis of historic research, the economic loss could be many multiples of that. However tragic and costly, this incident becomes a focal point, drawing attention to underlying problems within global supply chain processes.
Tianjin provides a spectacular example of how cargo in transit, potentially mis-declared, or packed or handled incorrectly, can cause widespread damage and loss of life. There have, however, been other port-related incidents of a lesser magnitude reported in the last year, at Santos in Brazil and in Vancouver in Canada. Together, these represent the tip of an iceberg that is made up of many less serious incidents that occur each year, resulting in fatalities, injuries and substantial disruption to the supply chain.
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