Estimating Human Losses in Earthquake Models: A Discussion

  • M. A. Ferreira
  • C. S. Oliveira
  • F. Mota de Sá
Part of the Advances in Natural and Technological Hazards Research book series (NTHR, volume 29)


Several studies and methodologies have been developed in recent years to model the number of victims and injuries caused by natural disasters such as earthquakes. Unfortunately, models and simulations developed up to now show substantial variability in the numbers of victims when compared with real values, because they do not consider a multi-parameter analysis including variables such as seismic intensity, degrees of building damage, percent of occupancy at the time of the event, individual behaviour (age, gender, mobility within the house during the shaking, etc.) or emergency response (effectiveness in response). When dealing with this topic we should separate the situation of estimation of human losses for emergency preparedness from the estimation right after a given event. In this paper the second of these issues will be analysed. People’s reactions prior to and during the shaking together with the building behaviour cause great differences in the number of deaths and injuries for a given earthquake. The European Macroseismic Scale (EMS-98) provides five grades for damage classification from “Negligible to slight” damage (D1) to “Collapse” (D5). While D5 class includes total or near total collapse of the buildings, we propose a class D5+ to represent “totally collapsed” structures separately from “almost collapsed” so as to establish a direct relation between damage grade and death rate. Data from a few events in Portugal and Italy illustrate the difficulties in estimating human losses.


Housing Stock Masonry Building Civil Protection Damage Grade Total Collapse 
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Mónica Amaral Ferreira is grateful for a research grant provided by Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (SFRH/BD/29980/2006).

Web links: (consulted in May 2009) (consulted in April 2009) (consulted in October 2009) Emergenza sismica in Abruzzo, 6 Aprile 2009. Assistenza alla popolazione. Aggiornamento ore 08.00 del 21-5-2009 (consulted in May 2009) (consulted 17 January 2010)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. A. Ferreira
    • 1
  • C. S. Oliveira
    • 1
  • F. Mota de Sá
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering and ArchitectureInstituto Superior TécnicoLisbonPortugal

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