Cost of New Zealand Quakes Rises to $17 Billion

The cost of the deadly sequence of earthquakes in the New Zealand city of Christchurch has gone up, and will now likely top $17 billion.

New Zealand’s government on Tuesday more than doubled its initial liability estimate of $2.6 billion to $6 billion. The rest of the cost will be borne by private insurers. The cost of the quakes equates to about 10 percent of the country’s annual economic output.

Christchurch has suffered more than 7,500 earthquakes and aftershocks since last September. The most significant quake, a magnitude-6.1 temblor, hit on Feb. 22. It killed 181 people, destroyed much of the inner city and rendered entire suburbs unlivable.

The government has offered to pay thousands of homeowners to leave their land for good.