AIR Worldwide estimates demages caused by Chilean earthquake could reach $900 million

Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide said Monday that it estimates that industry insured losses from the earthquake that struck Chile last week can reach $900 million.

"The earthquake was the result of convergence between the Nazca and South American tectonic plates," AIR Worldwide Vice President and Senior Director of Earthquake Hazard Research Mehrdad Mahdyiar said. "Here, the Nazca plate plunges beneath the South American plate, forming a subduction zone. Active subduction zones are some of the most likely plate interfaces to generate quakes of catastrophic magnitude and also pose the greatest risk of triggering tsunamigenic tectonic events."

Authorities have said that at least 12 people have died and the earthquake was felt more than 1,850 miles away in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The port city of Coquimbo reported waves approximately 16 feet high. The town of Illapel, located directly east of the quake's epicenter, suffered the heaviest damage resulting from strong ground motion.

According to Chile's National Office of Emergency of the Interior Ministry (ONEMI), the agency responsible for public safety and emergency response, more than 400 residential buildings have been destroyed and more than 700 residential buildings have sustained major damage.

The rupture area and the slip distributions of the recent earthquake suggest that a small part of the Nazca subduction zone south of the rupture area of this recent earthquake and north of the rupture area of the Maule earthquake did not rupture during these two earthquakes and should be at a higher state of stress, thus increasing the probability of a future earthquake.

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