UPDATE: 1 in 4 Homes Damaged by Italian Quake Says RMS

April 13, 2009

Risk Management Solutions’ latest bulletin on the devastating earthquake, which struck on Monday, estimates that “at least one in four homes in the epicentral area of L’Aquila in Italy have been damaged.”

RMS said its data “shows that just 20 percent 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.”

The reconstruction of damaged and destroyed buildings “will now be funded by the government, as less than 5 percent of the total residential damage is likely to be insured,” said RMS.

“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.”

RMS did note that there have been no reports of “major industrial building collapses. However, “50 percent 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 centre, the earthquake affected the only concentration of industry in the province. No buildings have collapsed, but even minor damage can interrupt production for weeks,” del Re explained. He and Dr. Navin Peiris of RMS will be joining a reconnaissance mission to the affected areas with the EEFIT to survey the damage and report the findings in the UK.

RMS added that, according to the most recent surveys by the “Centro di Competenza Nazionale per la Protezione Civile PLINIVS dell’UniversitĂ  di Napoli Federico II’, 4,400 buildings have been damaged, 339 destroyed and 968 are inaccessible buildings.
The total residential building population is 19,262 in the top 9 affected comuni in and around L’Aquila according to ISTAT Census 2001.”

Source: Risk Management Solutions – www.rms.com

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