Damaging M6.7 Main Shock and M6 Aftershocks in Philippines: Insured Losses Less than $100 Million

07-Feb-12

A magnitude 6.7 earthquake occurred in the Cebu region of the southern Philippines on February 6, 2012, followed by at least three aftershocks exceeding M5.5. Landslides, damage, and casualties have been reported. EQECAT estimates less than $100 million USD insured loss due to this event and economic loss approximately 10 times this amount. The earthquake was centered in the Negros Oriental province within the Visayas group of Islands, approximately 600km south-southeast of the Philippine capital of Manila. Little to no shaking was experienced in Manila.

Philippines Shakemap - February 7, 2012

USGS ShakeMap: Cebu Region Philippines
Source: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

A population of approximately 1 million were exposed to strong shaking intensity, according to PAGER estimates, and a population of about 5.5 million were exposed to moderate shaking, including Cebu city, the second-most populous metropolitan region in the Philippines. Damage and casualties are expected to be concentrated in the vicinity of the epicenter, including Guihulngan City (approximate population 100,000).

Damage is expected to stem primarily from landslides and shaking to vulnerable construction such as unreinforced masonry buildings. In the vicinity of Cebu city, earthquake-resistant construction is expected to have withstood the shaking with minimal to no damage.

The Philippine islands are in a tectonic setting of active seismicity with mapped seismic hazard among the highest across the globe, but this region of the Philippines has experienced a relatively low frequency of damaging earthquakes, in comparison to the rest of the nation. Over the past 40 years, only one earthquake exceeding magnitude 6.0 has occurred within 100 km of the February 6 earthquake's epicenter.

Philippines Historical Seismicity - February 7, 2012

Historical destructive earthquakes in the Philippines.
For quakes prior to 1984, earthquakes with intensities M>7 and greater are included.
For quakes after 1984, those with M>6.5 are included.

Exposure is changing rapidly in the region due to growing economic development. A common construction type is heavy timber residences elevated off the ground for flood resistance. While the shaking resistance of such buildings is generally good due to their relatively low mass, all building types are vulnerable to landslide. Shaking-induced landslides are common in hilly and mountainous regions that experience earthquakes, and landslide susceptibility is exacerbated by conditions of saturated or poorly-consolidated soils.

EQECAT model users are advised to consider event IDs 9124, 9180, 10877, and 10935 as proxies for this earthquake.

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