Latest quakes another wakeup call | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, September 23, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, September 23, 2009


Latest quakes another wakeup call

Time to set a preparedness strategy in motion

WHEN the nation was in a festive mood during the Eid, the capital city as well as some districts of the north-eastern region was shaken by earthquakes with their epicentres in Bhutan and Myanmar respectively. Tuesday's quake that touched the capital in the early afternoon was termed 'mild' (5.4 on the Richter scale), according to the Met office, while that of the previous day had a magnitude of 6.4. Strangely though, the same quake with its origin in eastern Bhutan and which was measured at 6.3 by the US Geological survey killed 11 people in that country. So, we should thank our stars that it did not result in anything serious in Bangladesh as it did near its epicentre in Bhutan.
The comparisons on the consequences of the Monday's quake at its origin in Bhutan and in Bangladesh lying 462 kilometres down in the South-west is very important as it took its toll even in a sparsely populated region in eastern Bhutan. The other fearsome aspect of the tremors as far as Bangladesh is concerned is that they are coming from different directions, some from the south in the Bay of Bengal, while others from the Northwest in Mynanmar and also from the Northeast in Bhutan. Moreover, frequent incidents of earthquakes, experts say, also portend the likely occurrence of severer shocks anytime in the near future.
The frequency of the quake incidents in the last few months and the premonitions of the experts cannot be overlooked anymore In fact, quakes really hit without warning.
That is more so because in July, the High Court (HC) had issued a directive to the government to take urgent steps to procure rescue equipment and other measures as safeguard against any future quake of devastating intensity. The latest tremors should be regarded as another pressing wakeup call from Nature.
But where are the awareness campaigns, civil defence exercises, periodic drills at the workplaces and the educational institutions as suggested by experts and various quarters concerned after the July directive of the HC? We are yet to know how far the capacity of the fire-fighting units has been improved through induction of more men and materials or mounting monitoring mechanism to see if the proper building codes are being observed in the construction of the high-rise buildings. At the same, time the media should also rise to the occasion by lending a hand to the government's awareness building programmes.

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