Earthquakes are unpredictable and are among the most damaging of disasters.
Myanmar is exposed to all kinds of hazards such as earthquakes, floods, cyclones, windstorms, landslides, tsunamis etc. As per INFORM index, Myanmar is the 12th most risk prone country to natural disasters in the world. Myanmar also takes third place in the list of countries impacted by climate extreme events in the last 2 decades (Global Climate Risk Index 2018).
Over 200 earthquakes with moderate and weak Richter scales shocked Myanmar in 2020. The strongest quakes were recorded with magnitude 6.
The earthquakes are expected to become stronger, according to the Myanmar Earthquake Committee.
Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw should enforce extensive earthquake preparedness measures, including drills, as the three populated cities are at risk for quakes.
In our country, there are five faults which can cause quakes with over 6 magnitude and about 40 fault lines which can cause quakes of 2 to 5 magnitudes.
Among them, the Sagaing Fault is a major tectonic structure that cuts through Myanmar, dividing the country into two halves. The western half moves north with the Indian plate, and the eastern half is attached to the Eurasian plate. The Sagaing Fault produced a major earthquake in November, 2012, in the Thabeikkyin area, 100 km north of Mandalay.
A 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Bagan on August 24, 2016, and damaged almost 400 of the area’s 3,252 pagodas.
The over 200 moderate and weak earthquakes in 2020 has shown that the fault lines are active and pose seismic hazards, which could be triggered any time.
Earthquakes are unpredictable forces of nature and can strike anytime without warning.
People, especially those living along the fault lines, must be alerted to the risks of earthquakes although quakes are rare, unlike other natural disasters such as fires, floods, and storms, as experts have predicted that Myanmar is more likely to suffer from earthquakes than from other natural disasters.
It is not enough to simply educate people and spread awareness about earthquakes.
Local governments will have to take into consideration drills and scrutinize the seismic safety of buildings to limit the damage to infrastructure and buildings.
Besides, local governments are urged to take a holistic and multi-sectoral approach to build resilient infrastructure with a risk informed approach in order to avoid creation of new risks and future losses after disasters.