13 January 2009

Costa Rica Earthquake – the aftermath

Posted by Dave Petley

I thought a brief follow up email to my previous posts about the Costa Rica earthquake would be useful now that we are five days post the event. So what do we now know?

Well, first the final death toll is likely to be about 40, most of whom were killed by landslides. Officially, as of today, 19 bodies have been recovered and 21 more are buried under landslide debris. It is possible that there is a small number of addition casualties under collapsed slopes. Landslides continue to occur during aftershocks and there is growing concern about the potential for future slides (see image below). Initial estimates of the damage are $100 million. In a country with a GDP of $26 billion, this is a huge amount (in comparison, the GDP of the UK is $2.13 trillion, meaning that the equivalent loss in terms of GDP would be $8.2 billion). Estimates are that the earthquake destroyed 518 houses, triggered the loss of 16 miles of road and collapsed eight bridges. Of course there will also be a substantial hit to tourism, which is vital in this area.

In terms of landslides, the emergency management office has indicated that the earthquake triggered more than 246 landslides. Repair of roads damaged by the landslides is expected to cost $15 million (see image below).