Latest reports suggest the magnitude 8.8 earthquake that struck Chile early Saturday morning has resulted in more than 700 fatalities and the death toll is expected to rise as rescuers access the most damaged areas. It comes just weeks after the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti in January leaving up to 230,000 dead per Haitian government estimates. How could two such damaging earthquakes result in such different death tolls? According to catastrophe modeler AIR Worldwide, the epicenter in the Chile earthquake fortunately was located in a region with relatively low population density. By comparison, the recent Haiti earthquake struck close to Port-au-Prince, a city of more than 3 million people. AIR Worldwide also notes that ChileÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s long history of damaging quakes has resulted in strict building codes, making the building stock considerably less vulnerable than HaitiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. Still, the loss in Chile is likely to be severe not only in terms of damage to buildings, but from the widespread impact on infrastructure, including roads, bridges, airports, utilities and telecommunication networks. As a result, AIR Worldwide says total economic losses from the quake likely will be two to three times higher than insurable losses. Cat modeler EQECAT estimates total economic damage from the Chile quake to be in the range of $15 billion to $30 billion which equates to 10-15 percent of ChileÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s real GDP. Check outÃ‚ reports by claimsjournal.com and Guy Carpenter for more on this story. FYI the U.S. Geological Survey categorizes earthquakes of magnitude 8.0 and above as Ã¢â‚¬Å“greatÃ¢â‚¬ and those of magnitude 7.0 to 7.9 as Ã¢â‚¬Å“major.Ã¢â‚¬ Although it may seem that we are having more earthquakes, USGS says earthquakes of magnitude 7.0 or greater have remained fairly constant. According to long-term records (since about 1900), it expects about 17 major earthquakes and one great earthquake in any given year. Check out I.I.I. info on earthquakes and insurance.
Initial reports suggest the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that hit Haiti around 5pm Eastern Time yesterday has caused widespread damage, with large loss of life expected. The quake struck about 10 miles southwest of the island nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital Port-au-Prince, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. According to reports, a magnitude 5.9 aftershock followed shortly afterwards some 30 miles further west, followed by a 5.5 aftershock closer to the location of the first quake. Haiti is a member of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF), a multinational insurance pool developed by the World Bank. Funded by premiums paid by participating countries, the facility provides early payout to members after a major earthquake or hurricane. InÃ‚ recent years the CCRIF paid out approximately $500,000 each to Dominica and St. Lucia after a 2007 earthquake, and $6.4 million to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike in 2008. Check out I.I.I. facts and stats on earthquakes.
A magnitude 7.1 earthquake struck some 320 km (200 miles) south-southwest of Tokyo on Sunday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), with an offshore epicenter some 303 km (188 miles) deep. The Japan Meteorological Agency put the magnitude of the earthquake slightly less, at 6.9. The quake apparently halted trains and a baseball game, but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries. Japan lies in one of the most seismically active areas of the world. Research by catastrophe modeler RMS indicates that a repeat of the 1923 magnitude 7.9 Great Kanto earthquake would cause approximately $80 billion in insured property losses. The magnitude 7.2 Great Hanshin (Kobe) earthquake of 1995 was one of the worst in JapanÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history and ranks among the top 40 worst global catastrophes between 1970 and 2008 both in terms of victims and insured losses. Some 6,425 people died in the quake which caused $3.5 billion (indexed to 2008 dollars) in insured losses, according to Swiss Re. Check out I.I.I. earthquake facts and stats.