Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide does not expect significant insured losses from the magnitude 8.2 earthquake that struck off the coast of Chile on Tuesday because the region is relatively sparsely populated.

The most imminent threats from the quake were tsunami waves, and the Chilean government issued mandatory evacuation orders for those living along the coast—nearly 900,000 residents. Chile’s navy reported that the first tsunami wave hit the coast within 45 minutes of the quake, with waves as tall as 6.9 feet coming ashore in the northern port cities of Pisagua and Iquique. There were no major reports of flood damage.

“Since the quake’s epicenter was located quite a distance from the coast, the shaking inland was not very severe and should serve to reduce the insured losses from this event,” said Dr. Mehrdad Mahdyiar, senior director of earthquake research at AIR Worldwide.

“Also mitigating the potential for insured losses is that the impacted area is very rural and characterized primarily by low-rise buildings constructed from either the unreinforced masonry or confined masonry. Since unreinforced masonry is vulnerable to earthquake damage, these buildings will likely experience moderate damage such as falling roofs and noticeable cracks in walls,” Mahdyiar predicted. “Damage to confined masonry buildings will be limited as this construction type has been used in Chile for many years and has performed well in past earthquakes.”

According to AIR, there have been no major reports of damage with the exception of destroyed adobe homes in Arica. Landslides have blocked roads throughout the region, and power and telecommunications outages are widespread. There are also fires burning in some locales. The quake also shook modern buildings in nearby Peru and in Bolivia’s high-altitude capital of La Paz.

AIR said it will continue to monitor the situation.

Source: AIR Worldwide