On 11 May 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 5.2 severely affected the town of Lorca with a population of 60000 in the Murcia region in SE-Spain. The earthquake caused strong damage, 9 fatalities and more than 300 injured people. Nearby towns in the municipality were not seriously affected.
The main shock was preceded by a foreshock two hours before. Although earthquakes are not infrequent in this region as evidenced in the historical record (three smaller events have occurred in the last ten years in the same region causing slight damage and economic losses), the 11 May 2011 Lorca very moderate magnitude earthquake caused a huge shock in the whole country. Fatalities caused by earthquakes in Spain were rare in recent times. In the whole XX century only 15 fatalities were caused altogether by two earthquakes (1956 and 1969).
Within the town of Lorca the effects were concentrated in several areas where around 40% of buildings were damaged. In the historical center of the town 16% of buildings were damaged and historical heritage was severely affected including old churches and medieval wall towers. Around 1000 buildings were affected (including residential, cultural heritage, schools, public, healthcare, etc.) to different levels. Most of the 60.000 population stayed outdoors overnight very frightened of subsequent aftershocks. Gas supply was shutoff for several hours after the earthquake, food and water were supplied by emergency services, and 1420 people were allocated in temporary camps. Altogether 1152 homes were demolished. The slight damage in infrastructure was very limited.
The Lorca earthquake was the highest severity losses covered by the “Insurance Compensation Consortium” (Spanish National Insurance System). The total losses are estimated at 1000 million €, 500,000 € of which were insured and thus compensated.
The earthquake in Lorca has provided an unprecedented amount of data on damage and losses in Spain offering a unique chance within the IDEA project for analyzing optimal ways for coding, standardization, and harmonization of this kind of information and data.