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WRN Expects $24bn Losses From Mount Vesuvius Eruption

IBR Staff Writer Published 16 April 2010

A major eruption of Italy's Mount Vesuvius, which is at the top of list of Europe’s 10 most dangerous volcanoes, could result in 8,000 fatalities, 13,000 injuries and total economic losses of around $24bn, according to a new study supported by Willis research network (WRN).

The WRN, funded by Willis Group Holdings, an insurance broker, is a public-private partnership between Willis and many of the top scientific research institutions globally.

The WRN volcano risk ranking, which examines European volcanoes with potentially affected populations of greater than 10,000, was developed by researchers from the University of Cambridge, the University of Naples Federico II and Willis Re, Willis’ reinsurance broking arm.

According to company, the WRN team has identified the ten most dangerous European volcanoes based on size of a potential eruption, number of people potentially at risk, and value of property in the area surrounding each volcano. The study found that, together, the ten volcanoes could affect almost 2.1 million people with an aggregated exposed residential property value of $85bn.

The study found that Mount Vesuvius poses a risk to life and property because it has an exposed population of 1.7 million people, an exposed residential property value of $66.1bn and a great potential for a seriously damaging eruption among top ten volcanoes. The study noted that around 87% of the aggregated exposed property value for the ten volcanoes is concentrated in Neapolitan region near Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei.

Rashmin Gunasekera, catastrophe risk analyst of Willis Re and one of the authors of paper, said: “There are significant numbers of highly active volcanoes in the wider European region, taking into account those in Iceland, the Spanish Canary Islands, the Portuguese Azores and the French islands of the Lesser Antilles. These are all major tourist destinations, and while property values drive our loss estimates, it should be noted that aviation, agriculture, motor and business interruption policies also will be affected.”

The WRN team is comprised of of Mr Gunasekera, Robin Spence, professor of University of Cambridge & CAR and Giulio Zuccaro, professor and scientific director of Plinius Centre at University of Naples Federico II.