By Maung Thaung Win [Ex-Diplomat]
These days Myanmar saw 19 consecutive events of earthquakes and tremors which were centered in Myanmar starting from the very first day of the year till 14 January. There usually happened consecutive quakes after events of tremor. Whatever it is, it is incumbent upon us to make preparedness for dangers of possible earthquakes, especially for the dwellers in high-rise buildings and in dilapidated old ones.
An earth-quake means—
An earthquake is the sudden shaking of the surface of the Earth due to the friction between layers of rocks underneath. The original point where the earthquake start is the focus of the quake, with the point on the earth’s surface where the effects of a quake are felt most strongly called the epicenter. If the epicenter happens to be on the surface of the earth, it can cause much destruction. Depending upon shallow-focus and deep-focus earthquakes, destruction may differ.
A mere quake rarely claims lives of human-beings and animals, but consecutive events—collapses of buildings, fire outbreaks, tsunami waves and volcanic eruptions—can cause massive destruction.
So as to avoid these consequences of earthquakes as much as possible, buildings should be constructed as quake-proof ones only after careful and systematic planning such as installation of danger-safe systems and advance warning systems. Arrangements for rescue and evacuation should have also made in advance.
Until now, no one can predict when, where and to which extent of measurement—the Richter scale, an earthquake will happen. Only after it broke out, its volume can be measured. Yet, according to the records, strong earthquakes can happen during the period of 80-100 years. In the past, Myanmar as well saw strong earthquakes for several times, hence the need for the nation as well as the whole national populace to make preparations, anticipating imminent dangers of quakes.
Former strong earthquakes in Myanmar
Likewise other countries in the world Myanmar also had ever experienced strong quakes frequently. Out of them, strong quakes which caused massive destruction are as follows:
1. Innwa [Ava] Quake which did shake on 21st March in 1839 claimed nearly 400 people, making pagodas and some parts of the old palace walls
2. Bago [Pegu] earthquake, measuring 7.3 on Richter scale which shook on 5th May 1930 rendering 500 people dead and edifices collapsed
3. Sagaing earthquake which shook on 16th July 1956 measuring on the Richter scale 7 claimed 50 lives and destroyed many building.
4. Bagan [Pagan] earthquake which shook on 8th July 1975 measuring 6.8 on Richter scale ruined ancient pagodas and stupas.
Moreover, there are still quakes which destroyed much such as Taungdwingyi Tarlay earthquake, Thabeikkyin earthquake and Chauk earthquakes.
Strong quakes around the world
Out of the innumerable earthquakes which shook in the world earthquake which caused massive destructions are as follows:
1. Antioch earthquake which shook in Turkey in May 526 claimed over 250000 lives.
2. Damghan earthquake which shook in Iran on December 22, 856 caused over 200000 deaths.
3. Ardabil earthquake which occurred in Iran on 23 March 893 killed over 150000.
4. 1138 Aleppo earthquake in Syria which occurred 11 October 1138 claimed many lives.
5. Chihli earthquake which occurred in Chihli, China on 27th September 1290 claimed over 100000 lives.
6. 1556 Shaanxi earthquake, China claimed 830000 lives.
7. 1667 Shamakhi earthquake, Azerbaijan killed over 100000 lives.
8. 1676 Tangshan earthquake
9. Hoei earthquake in Japan in 1707
10. 1755 Lisbon earthquake.
11. 1868 Arica earthquake in Chile.
12. 1896 Meiji [Sanriku] earthquake in Japan.
13. 1908 Messina earthquake in Italy.
14. 1920 Haiyuan earthquake in China.
15. 1920 Great Kanto earthquake in Japan.
16. 1948 Turkmenistan earthquake in Turkmen.
17. Tangshan earthquake which occurred in China in 1976 July 28
18. 2004 December Indonesia tsunami
19. 2010 Haitai earthquake and 20.
2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami killed a whole slew of people respectively.
Emergency planning drawn up
It needs to have drawn up emergency plans for finding, rescuing and rehabilitating victims at the needed time when natural disasters happen. It is also necessary to cooperate with the government, Tatmadaw, Myanmar Police Force and members of fire brigade provided that great disasters and their related epidemics break out. Hence, arrangements should have been made concerning preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation which are included in the emergency plans.
Laying down the strategy
At the present time, the global countries are facing various kinds of natural disasters annually due to the extreme weather. With a view to dealing with natural disasters including earthquakes, a strategy should have been laid down. And, in laying down the strategy as well, the following should be taken into consideration.
1. making systematic preparation prior to the happenings of imminent dangers after forecasting natural disasters likely to happen in respective regions and states,
2. establishment of committees for prevention from natural disasters,
3. making rescue teams perform the tasks of rescuing and helping in quickest way at the time of the natural disasters,
4. reviewing the facts as to what kinds of things and how much are needed for the victims of the natural disasters,
5. providing medial aids and health care to victims,
6. delivering basic commodities such as foods,
7. making concerted efforts in resettlement and rehabilitation works after the outbreaks of the natural disasters,
8. making the statistics on the accurate amounts of male and female victims,
9. helping local residents, who were victimized to get income,
10. encouraging the victims,
11. compiling the statistics on the budget allotment and division for spending,
12. releasing news and information and
13. rebuilding up roads, bridges, electricity, communication network, plumbing systems and sewage system
Less strengthened buildings,
Since the very advent of the New Year in Myanmar, there occurred to some parts of the country frequent tremors. People are now worried as to whether strong earthquakes will break out. Awareness and preparedness will never come to “Nothing.” Residents living in ancient edifices and dilapidated apartments who were once built by unqualified contractors should have thought beforehand, about dangers of imminent quakes.
To sum it up, any parts of the world are seeing frequent natural disasters with the spread of the extreme weather. Some disasters such as floods, torrential rains, fires and storms can be forecast, no one can predict concerning the dangers of quakes. It is the best way to build quake-proof edifices after careful planning. Now we can conclude that tremors happening at present are warning us about the imminent quakes.
May all citizens prepare for the dangers of potential earthquakes!
Khin Maung Oo