Dusky Sound Quake Cost $6M

The earthquake which struck Dusky Sound in July last year was the largest to strike New Zealand in 80 years but smaller quakes have cost more in damage.

Thursday 8th April 2010

On the evening of July 15th 2009, a shallow magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck 100 km north-west of Tuatapere (160 km north-west of Invercargill) beneath Dusky Sound. The earthquake was the largest to strike New Zealand since the Hawke’s Bay earthquake of 1931.

Despite its size, the location and unique nature of the movement meant that damage was not as severe as expected from a quake of that magnitude.

Damage claims were handled by disaster insurer EQC, which was faced with managing the largest earthquake event since its predecessor the Earthquake and War Damage Commission was formed during World War II.

Four field support centres were opened in Invercargill, Christchurch, Cromwell and Dunedin to respond to the large number of claims. Up to 75 staff worked from the centres until they were closed in October, by which time over 95% of claims had been settled.

In all, 5,219 claims were lodged with a total value of $6.1 million.

Whilst it was the largest earthquake event faced by EQC, two other earthquakes have cost it more in claims. The magnitude 6.3 Edgecumbe earthquake of 1987 cost $36 million (in today’s dollars) and the magnitude 6.8 quake offshore near Gisborne in 2007 generated more than 6,000 claims costing EQC $25 million.

[source: Ru Whenua, issue 19, EQC, March 2010]

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