Bangladesh is at the threshold of a large scale earthquake that might happen anytime, a seismic expert has predicted.
Syed Humayun Akhter, professor of Geology Department of Dhaka University, said the recent small scale tremors signal big earthquakes ahead and it is imperative to take immediate precautions to face such a calamity.
In an interview on Thursday, Prof Humayun said building up mass awareness about the earthquake hazard could help to keep the losses to a minimum level.
“It is absolutely true that large scale earthquakes may occur in Bangladesh. It can happen any day - today, tomorrow or after 100 years,” he said.
Humayun said government should give top most priority to creating awareness among the city dwellers to combat earthquake disasters.
He said people are now in panic following the tremors that shook various districts twice in Bangladesh including Dhaka on the night of September 10.
Humayun said earthquake drills should be made mandatory in each and every institution. The government should take the initiative to carry out exercises by fixing date and time by playing sirens.
In this regard, he mentioned some tips on safety before, during and after earthquake.
Tips on safety before an earthquake include making a family disaster plan and keeping emergency kit items. These include drinking water, dry food, first aid box, flashlight, portable radio, extra batteries for flashlight and radio, fire extinguisher, hammers, hacksaw blade, rope and shovels in house within ones reach.
The tips suggest everyone must know where the emergency kit items are kept, train family members in 'basic first aid' and 'rescue operations', learn how to stop electric main switch and gas supply and identify emergency exits.
For indoor safety during an earthquake, stay inside and remain calm, secure personal safety based on surroundings. Many injuries occur as people enter or leave buildings.
Never use elevator as one may get trapped inside. Get under a table, desk or bed to avoid injuries or stand in a strong doorway or take shelter near an inner wall, as maximum damage occurs in outer wall.
Do not stand in balconies. Stay away from glass windows, mirrors, almirahs and heavy objects (hanging & standing). If you are in a high rise building, stand against a support column.
Outdoors safety tips include finding a clear spot away from buildings, trees, and power lines and staying in open places.
Keep the streets clear for the passage of emergency services and help rescue operation.
Humayun said the government has taken an initiative to impart training to 62,000 volunteers in Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong to tackle the post-earthquake situation. But there is no thought on the course of action before earthquakes.
He suggested that the government should take initiative to develop mass awareness, saying that only mass awareness can reduce the risk of earthquake in a densely populated city like Dhaka.
Replying to a question, Prof Humayun said the most vulnerable earthquake areas in Bangladesh are regions that lie east of the Jamuna and Meghna rivers including greater Dhaka, Mymensingh, Comilla, Noakhali, Sylhet, Chittagong and Chittagong Hill Tracts districts.
Bangladesh is situated at the junction of three plates of India, Burma and Tibet.
The rigid part of the earth's upper surface, which is 70 kilometer thick, called lithosphere fragmented into major 12 plates is floating on semi viscous fluid.
India plate moves 6cm per year towards north east while Burma plate moves 2cm per year towards south-west.
The movement of India and Burma plates towards each other is shortening Bangladesh at the rate of 6mm per year.
This shortening builds up strain energy within the earth-crust (very thin layer of the earth 30km thick) of Bangladesh. The energy increases with the passage of time and when it exceeds the strength of the rock it breaks apart and releases energy that produce earthquake.