International Strategy for Disaster Reduction
Latin America and the Caribbean   

Newsletter ISDR Inform - Latin America and the Caribbean
Issue: 13/2006- 12/2006 - 11/2005 - 10/2005 - 9/2004 - 8/2003 - 7/2003 - 6/2002 - 5/2002 - 4/2001- 3/2001


EIRD Global


ECLAC: Impact Assessment of the Earthquake of Colima, Mexico


On January 21, 2003 a major Earthquake occurred at 8:30 p.m. with a magnitude of 7.8 (Richter scale), mainly affecting the States of Colima, Jalisco and Michoacan, in Mexico. As a result, at least 23 people were reported killed, as well as a large number of victims. The earthquake also caused considerable damage in all States, but especially in Colima.

Only a few hours after the occurrence of the event, national authorities for civil protection, including the Director of the National Center for Disaster Prevention, together with a research team -which carried out a joint mission with a team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute (EERI), the Inter-University Group for Seismic Engineering (GIIS) and the Mexican Society of Seismic Engineering (SMIS)-, visited the affected area to evaluate both the magnitude of the earthquake and the level of damage. Subsequently, a number of measures were coordinated to address this emergency and, after verifying losses, an official Declaration of Damage was issued for a number of municipalities located in the aforementioned States.

Socioeconomic Impact of this Earthquake

Out of these three States, Colima was undoubtedly the most affected one by the earthquake of January 21, especially due to its socioeconomic impact. Total financial losses, in terms of both direct and indirect damage, amounted to more than 1,000 million pesos, which represents more than 3% of the State’s GDP for the year 2002. This amount also represents one of the highest figures in terms of losses caused by a natural phenomenon, in recent history, in any of the States of the Mexican Republic.

Housing was the most affected sector, with more than 25,000 units damaged and losses amounting to 298 million pesos (27.7% of the total losses caused by this disaster). Taking into account the level of damage, the housing sector was followed by trade and services, especially in terms of small businesses whose infrastructure and goods were damaged, amounting to $127 million pesos in losses. Moreover, the industry sector, including agro-industry, suffered losses and damage in the amount of $56 million pesos. Productive sectors as a whole, excluding agriculture, faced losses that exceeded the amount of $205 million pesos2. Although in terms of agriculture losses were moderate, this event also damaged irrigation systems causing losses in the amount of 38.9 million pesos.

Losses suffered by the power sector were relatively high (almost 111 million pesos), as well as the resulting damage to public buildings and monuments, especially religious infrastructure, (which amounted to 42 and 114 million pesos, respectively). Communications and transport sectors suffered losses in the amount of 70 million pesos. In this sector, losses were higher in the Port of Manzanillo, since damage to roads and highways was comparatively moderate.

Education infrastructure was moderately damaged, but this included a total of 387 schools affected. Most education centers affected are located in Colima, whose University was also damaged. In this sector, repair works have been calculated in some 133, 6 million pesos.

With regard to health infrastructure, major damage was suffered by one of the two hospitals ran by the Mexican Social Security Institute for State Workers (ISSSTE) in Colima. This hospital was evacuated and its infrastructure was seriously damaged. Three other hospitals ran by the Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) were considerably damaged as well, for a total of 48.3 million pesos in terms of both direct and indirect damage.

Resources requested to the Fund for Natural Disasters (FONDEN) in order to address needs related to reconstruction processes, amounted to 514.9 million pesos. This sum represents less than the actual losses included in this report. However, this amount is directly related to the losses suffered by the main sectors affected by the earthquake, except when receiving private assistance, cases in which monitoring is not part of the rules of FONDEN. It is worth mentioning, in this context, the resources requested by both the Secretariat of Public Education and the Secretariat of Social Development (SEDESOL), particularly to support the sectors of housing, transport and communications, and to restore the Port of Manzanillo.