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20 June 2013
Last week’s Victorian earthquake has not caused major losses, with some residents reporting cracks in the walls of buildings and shelves falling over.
Stock fell off shop shelves in the Gippsland towns of Moe and Morwell when the quake struck at 8.53pm last Tuesday. The epicentre was 16km southwest of Moe, but shaking lasting 30 to 40 seconds was felt across Melbourne, 120km away, and as far away as Wodonga on the NSW border.
More than 170 small aftershocks followed, Geoscience Australia says.
The Insurance Council of Australia says most reports are for superficial damage only that may fall below the excess amount.
The damage includes “stuck doors, cracked ceilings and falling fascia bricks,” an ICA spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au.
Financial Services Minister Bill Shorten acknowledged in a statement that home and contents insurance generally covers earthquake damage, but nevertheless called on insurers to exercise “diligence and compassion”.
Asked whether this suggested the minister expected insurers not to be diligent and compassionate, a spokesman told insuranceNEWS.com.au: “We’ve got no reason to think they haven’t been doing a really good job in the wake of this.”
Catastrophe modelling firm AIR Worldwide says damaging earthquakes in Australia are relatively rare.
Senior Principal Scientist Bingming Shen-Tu says although earthquake activity in the southeastern coastal and offshore regions of Australia has historically been high, most of the events are relatively small in magnitude.
“However larger events of magnitude 6.5 to 7 have occurred in the eastern offshore area of Tasmania, about 250 to 300km southeast of this event,” he said.
Seismologists will use data from temporary seismometers around the epicentre to clarify the location of the main shock and identify the active fault system that caused the quake, Geoscience Australia says.
The data will also help predict the amount of shaking Victorian earthquakes produce and assess the likely earthquake hazard in the Gippsland region.
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