Tornadoes that slammed five states in the U.S. Midwest and Southlast week may generate as much as $2 billion in claims costs forinsurers, risk-modeling firm Eqecat Inc. said.

Tornadoes have killed 49 people in the U.S. this year, accordingto a statement issued yesterday by Oakland, California-basedEqecat. The tornadoes will probably bring claims of $1 billion to$2 billion, the firm said.

More than 150 tornadoes touched down from Feb. 28 through March3, most of them in Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois andAlabama, Eqecat said. The U.S. has experienced 272 tornadoes thisyear through March 4, more than twice the seven-year average forthe period, according to the statement.

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