Location, Limited Take-Up Will Curb Italian Quake Losses: AIR

Chris Westfall
Chris Westfall

There will be limited insured exposure to a 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Italy early Sunday despite being the strongest tremblers to hit the country since the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake that caused $16 in economic losses.

“Today’s event occurred in an area of generally low seismicity and using currently available information, early indications are that insured losses will not be significant given the low residential take-up rates and the relatively rural nature of the epicentral region,” said Dr. Mehrdad Mahdyiar, senior director of earthquake research at AIR Worldwide in a statement.

The earthquake struck at 2:03 UTC on May 20 in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, according to the the US Geological Survey. AIR adds that the focal depth of the quake is estimated at between 6.3 km and 10 km and that the “[shallowness] will likely exacerbate the damage.”

According to AIR, reinforced concrete construction “that dominates newer buildings in the region” fared well during Sunday’s earthquake, although older buildings may have suffered significant damage because seismic resistance in Italy varies according “to region and building’s age.”

Sunday’s event is the strongest earthquake to strike Italy since the April 6, 2009 magnitude 6.3 L’Aquila earthquake that crippled the densely populated city of Abruzzo in central Italy. At least 308 people died and 50,000 were homeless in that event, while total estimated economic losses were $16 billion.

The L’Aquila earthquake was also at the center of a trial of of six Italian scientists and a government official for manslaughter for not warning the public of the coming disaster. No verdict has been reach yet in that trial, according to published reports.