Posted on 10 Apr 2009
The world's largest firm of catastrophe risk experts, Risk Management Solutions (RMS), estimates that at least one in four homes in L'Aquila, Italy have been damaged by the devastating earthquake that hit on April 6.
RMS data shows that just 20% of homes were built after 1980 when new earthquake building codes were introduced to make properties more resistant to ground shaking. At least two-thirds of the buildings in the area are of masonry construction, which is particularly susceptible to major cracking and collapse during earthquakes. This proportion is similar to the rest of Italy, highlighting the vulnerability of the country’s building stock.
Reconstruction of buildings will now be funded by the government, as less than 5% of the total residential damage is likely to be insured. “The Italian government is exploring how to finance the reconstruction since in the current economic climate it cannot rely on the same international borrowing it received after the 1997 earthquake,” said Domenico del Re, director at RMS and chairman of the Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT), which will be doing a reconnaissance mission to the area. “We should expect a new debate about the role of insurance in accelerating and increasing recovery in such disasters, and avoiding the requirement to find urgent ad-hoc solutions after the event.
“As well as making funds available, earthquake insurance can provide the financial incentives for building reinforcements to be carried out,” he added. “Italy is leading the research into property strengthening, since many of its buildings are highly vulnerable to ground shaking - even some of the post-war reinforced concrete buildings – but the costs are high.”
While no major industrial building collapses are reported, 50% of industrial facilities are said to have sustained some form of damage and are closed whilst the safety of the structure is guaranteed.
“Though L’Aquila is not a major business center, the earthquake affected the only concentration of industry in the province. No buildings have collapsed, but even minor damage can interrupt production for weeks,” said Mr. del Re.