New Zealand Aftershocks Continue

September 2010, February 2011  and now June. Christchurch, New Zealand faces yet  another setback in its recovery  after a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck on Monday, with a reported epicenter just six miles southeast of the city’s central business district.

According to catastrophe modeling firm  Eqecat, this latest event (technically an aftershock) is expected to cause an additional $3 to $5 billion in insured losses to the region and is affecting an area already significantly damaged by earlier earthquakes.

Eqecat notes that since the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that occurred last September 3, two magnitude 6.0 events have now occurred – one on February 21 and the other  on Monday (June 13). In addition, there have been 11 magnitude 5.0 events (add one more with yet another aftershock reported earlier Wednesday).

For those of you calculating the  insured loss impact  of this series of NZ earthquakes, here’s Eqecat’s estimated tally so far:

  • M7 Darfield earthquake in September 2010: $4 to $6 billion in insured losses.
  • M6 Christchurch earthquake in February: $8 to $12 billion in additional losses.
  • And now M6 Christchurch “aftershock” in June: $3 to $5 billion.

At the low range of  Eqecat’s estimate this could mean $15 billion in insured losses, at the top end $23 billion.

Put this in the global catastrophe  context  and the latest NZ numbers add to a first-half of the year that has seen record tornado losses in the United States, the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, major flooding events in Australia  as well as  Tropical Cyclone Yasi.

And all forecasts point to the likelihood of above average activity in the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season.

A  recent article in the New York Times cited  I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig on the U.S. catastrophe loss tally. Dr. Hartwig observed that just one “relatively minor† hurricane this year could push total U.S. private insurance catastrophe losses in 2011 above the $13.6 billion paid out in 2010.

Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on global catastrophes and U.S. catastrophes.

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