While most B-C residents are mindful of the risk they face from a potentially devastating earthquake, it seems there's far less awareness of the quake threat in Eastern Canada.

A study by Zurich-based Swiss Re, a company that helps cover other insurers, estimates Montrealers could suffer 45 billion dollars in economic losses if the city were hit by a magnitude 5.8 quake.

Maurice Lamontagne, a seismologist with the GeologicalnSurvey of Canada, says a quake of about that magnitude did hit Montreal in 1732, damaging some 300 buildings, while the Charlevoix region northeast of Quebec City was hit by a 7.0 magnitude tremor in 1663.

And in 1929 a 7.2 earthquake and subsequent tsunami hammered Newfoundland killing 28 people.

But despite this seismological history -- and the ongoing threat -- Pierre Bobinsky, of the Insurance Bureau of Canada, notes that only three per cent of Quebecers have earthquake insurance, compared to 65 per cent of B-C residents.