Natural catastrophe losses at their highest for four years

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Earthquake near Christchurch: High risk

Severe quake on New Zealand’s South Island: Following the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011 close to the country’s second biggest city of Christchurch, the region was again rocked by an earthquake a little further away.

The epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that shook New Zealand on 13 November was in the northern part of the South Island, some 100 km from Christchurch. The quake resulted from the simultaneous fracture of a complex tectonic system of six individual fault lines. The effects were felt throughout the country, and there was a series of aftershocks. The rupture length was over 200 km.

Given the strength of the earthquake, relatively few people were hurt thanks to the high construction standards. Only a few structures collapsed completely, but there was still significant damage to both buildings and infrastructure. In the capital, Wellington, it was mainly higher buildings with between 8 and 15 floors that were affected. These structures were especially affected by the very strong, long-lasting ground movements that resulted from the complex rupture process and the soft subsoil conditions. Small detached houses on the other hand generally suffered less damage. Christchurch, the country’s second largest city in terms of population, was only moderately affected.

New Zealand is classified as highly exposed to earthquakes. Christchurch was hit by a series of powerful earthquakes at the end of 2010 and early 2011. Following the earthquake in the autumn of 2010, a further tremor struck on 22 February 2011. This time the quake had a more catastrophic impact, claiming the lives of 185 people. Five years later, the reconstruction process still continues.

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