Virtual Earthquake Reconnaissance Team (VERT) Summary by Sahar Derakhshan.

“According to Italian Red Cross, as of 30 August, 292 people were killed in the towns of Amatrice, Accumoli and Arquata del Tronto. 2,925 people have been displaced: 970 in the region of Lazio, 1,200 in the region of Marche and 755 in the region of Umbria. The Civil Protection reported 3,554 people have been assisted and are being accommodated in camps (… Read more)”.

Economic Impact

“An early estimate from the Italian Civil Protection Department suggested that the quake could result in economic losses of around $11 billion. This estimate likely includes full rebuilding costs. Meanwhile the USGS suggested a 62% likelihood of an economic loss of over $1 billion, 35% of between $1 billion and $10 billion and a 21% chance that economic losses would be above $10 billion (…Read more)”. “The nature of the economic damage, and the lack of major disruptions to transportation, distribution and energy production facilities will have limited impact on GDP growth at the national level (…Read more)”.

“Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said that Italy’s nonlife insurance market is the eighth-largest in the world and the fifth largest in Europe, and its property insurance market is the second-largest nonlife market in the country. Earthquake coverage, however, is often not included in standard homeowners’ policies and is typically issued as an extension of fire policies. Earthquake coverage for industrial and commercial structures may be offered for an additional premium, which varies by region”. “Fitch Ratings said on Aug. 26 that it expects to see limited impact on Italian insurers: They expect the insured losses to be EUR40 million-EUR80 million for primary insurers and EUR60 million-EUR120 million for reinsurers (… Read more)”.

Policy Impact

“The majority of buildings in Italy are of unreinforced masonry, reinforced masonry, or reinforced concrete construction. Because most structures were built before the introduction of comprehensive seismic building codes and modern construction technology, the risk of collapse during an earthquake for those erected prior to 1980 is very high. It wasn’t until 1996 that provisions were introduced to limit excessive building flexibility, and the pre-1996 seismic codes usually have deficiencies that result in a high risk of collapse during powerful earthquakes and high risk of nonstructural damage during weaker ones. The seismic codes in Italy did not change significantly until 2003 (AIR Worldwide)”.

“Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Matteo Renzi, is introducing a long-term preparedness plan following last Wednesday’s earthquake. The national plan will be called “Casa Italia” and will include making structures earthquake-proof across the country and a range of other environmental measures. The government is also to appoint a special commissioner to oversee the reconstruction effort in Amatrice and other mountain villages affected by last week’s earthquake, with clear schedules for work completion and expenditure approvals. The long-term effort to bring Italy up to international seismic safety standards could take 50 years (Source)”.

Social Media

Humanity Road activated its digital disaster desk to monitor social media and amplify official messages in social media for those impacted by the earthquake. They publish situation reports providing links to official accounts and early indications of the situation based on social media”. “Facebook activated its safety check feature for the region, which allows users to mark themselves as safe and quickly alert friends and family after a crisis or a natural disaster (The New York Times)”.

“In the days after the event, the tech community, telecom operators and media supported the relief efforts. The crowdfunding campaign “Un aiuto subito” launched on Friday by the TV network La7 together with the daily Il Corriere della Sera, TIM and the startup Starteed, raised more than $150,000 in less than 24 hours and it has now raised to $200,000. The Italian community of OpenstreetMap (an open source alternative to Google Maps), also mobilized to update the maps of the areas damaged by the earthquake, using satellite imagery made available by Bing, by the European program Copernicus (Forbes)”.

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