NU Online News Service, April 7, 4:04 p.m. EDT

The quake that struck near L’Acquila, Italy killing more than 200 persons and demolishing thousands of buildings is unlikely to inflict a major insurance loss, according to figures from one expert.

Guillermo Franco, senior engineer at AIR Worldwide catastrophe modeling firm, said estimates for the percentage of homes insured in Italy put the figure at 5 percent, with commercial coverage about 35 percent.

“It may be lower in those [quake affected] areas,” he said. Mr. Franco said estimates from the 6.3 magnitude event for L’Acquila and surrounding towns is 15,000 buildings experienced damage.

He said the construction materials include historic masonry and reinforced concrete structures, with most of the damage concentrated on structures put up in the 1960s and 1970s when requirements were lacking for more quake-resistant construction.

Some soft soil deposits in the area where the quake occurred, about 60 miles east of Rome, may have played a role in the amplification of ground motion, Mr. Franco explained.

He said the earthquake was produced by a normal mechanism fault along the Central Appenine fault.

The event, said Mr. Franco, is comparable with the 1997 Umbria-Marche quake which occurred a few kilometers west of L’Acquila.