An earthquake in a Pacific Ocean subduction zone could send a four-metre tsunami crashing into one of Asia’s busiest ports

A tsunami event originating along the Manila Trench could have a devastating effect on Port of Kaohsiung, Taiwan’s principal port and the sixth largest container port in the world, according to Guy Carpenter & Company.

A scenario risk report published by the risk and reinsurance specialists provides an overview of the tsunami risk from a magnitude 9.4 earthquake along the Manila Trench, which is located west of the islands of Luzon and Mindoro in the Philippines.

Tsunami Risk from Magnitude 9.4 Earthquake in Manila Trench examines the potential impacts of such an event on Hong Kong, Kota Kinabalu, Macau, Manila, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Guy Carpenter’s head of analytics for Asia Pacific Mike Owen says severe events such as the Tohoku tsunami of 2011, Chile in 2010 and the Indian Ocean in 2004, have proved that “tsunami is a very real and potentially very severe peril with the capability to cause devastation over a broad area”.

“This is particularly the case for the Asia Pacific region where events triggered almost anywhere around the Pacific Rim can strike multiple countries,” he says.

“We undertook the study detailed in this report to help our clients to better understand the potential risk posed to key areas of insurance concentration within the region.”

For roughly the past four and a half centuries, the Manila Trench has been building up enormous amounts of energy as the Philippine Sea plate and the Eurasian plate continue to push against one another.

The five most important trans-ocean tsunamis of the twentieth century all occurred in the Pacific Ocean.

The United States Geological Survey states that 81 per cent of the world’s largest earthquakes occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, also sometimes referred to as the ‘Ring of Fire’.