September 17th, 2015

8.3 Mw Earthquake near Illapel, Chile

Posted at 2:40 PM ET

83eq-illapel-chile-smChile experienced an 8.3-magnitude earthquake on September 16, followed by dozens of aftershocks, including one at magnitude 7.0 and seven at magnitude 6.0 or above. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the earthquake occurred near the coast of Coquimbo, about 46 kilometers (29 miles) west of Illapel at 19:54 local time. A tsunami warning was issued for the entire coast of Chile but has since been lifted. Initial media reports indicate at least 11 fatalities, although emergency crews are still accessing affected areas. The earthquake has forced more than one million people to evacuate from their homes and electrical power was cut off to 240,000 households. Heavy waves following the earthquake caused flooding in coastal towns although most buildings were reported to hold up well. The USGS pager service estimates most probable economic losses between USD 100 million and USD 1 billion. Our first thoughts and concerns are with those directly affected by this event.


It will take time to fully establish the scope and severity of the impacts of this event. Media reports indicate at least 11 fatalities, but this number is expected to rise as emergency crews gain access to severely affected areas. Mahmud Aleuy, the Interior Ministry’s deputy secretary, reported one million people forced out of their homes, and electrical power cut off to about 240,000 households, according to reports. The 8.3-magnitude earthquake lasted for three minutes, prompting authorities to issue a tsunami warning for the entire coast of Chile. The warning has since been cancelled.


*Modified Mercalli Intensity (MMI) measures the perceived strength of shaking produced by the earthquake at a certain location. For more information on the MMI scale please see

Hazard data illustrated in the CAT-i map was taken from i-aXs®, Guy Carpenter’s web-based risk management platform. i-aXs users can view impacted areas on any map as well as see how their portfolios were affected. Please contact your broker or GC Analytics® representative for assistance or go to for further information.

Tsunami advisories were issued for parts of South America, Hawaii, California and French Polynesia, although waves were generally expected to be small, according to media reports. In New Zealand’s Chatham Islands, some residents left their homes after reporting repeated ebb and flow of tide and with sounds of tidal surge around midnight local time. There were no immediate reports of damage or injury.

Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet indicated that her government has learned from previous disasters and that she would travel to the most severely affected areas, according to reports. This earthquake is the strongest in the world this year, and the biggest to hit Chile since 2010.

The USGS Pager Service estimates an 18 percent chance that economic losses will exceed USD 1 billion and a 70 percent chance of exceeding USD 100 million.

The Chile earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2010 was an 8.8-magnitude earthquake that killed more than 500 people, destroyed 220,000 homes and leveled part of the city of Concepcion in south-central Chile. According to the USGS, the 2010 earthquake was 5.6 times more powerful in terms of energy released.

Sources: USGS, Reuters News, Associated Press, BBC News.

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Guy Carpenter publishes CAT-i reports for major natural catastrophes worldwide. These reports cover catastrophes including worldwide tropical cyclones, earthquakes, major UK and European floods and any other natural event that is likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

Guy Carpenter compiles RISK-i reports for major technological or man-made events worldwide. These reports cover risks to property, transport and life including explosions, fires, crashes, engineering disasters and terrorist attacks that are likely to incur a significant loss to the (re)insurance industry. Please email if you wish to be added to the free email distribution list.

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