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Anti-quake measures in rural, urban housings in focus

WT24 Desk

Being at high risk of earthquake, Bangladesh must impose compulsory building standard and anti-earthquake measures in constructing buildings both in rural and urban areas to minimise damages and human casualties due to any possible strong earthquake, says a Chinese expert, agencies report.  “Nobody can stop earthquake from its natural happening. But, we can try our best to minimise damages and casualties,” Dr Jian Qiu, Chief Planner of the Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development in Sichuan Province, told UNB at Chengdu.

Apart from laying emphasis on technical aspects, the expert said creating awareness among ordinary people and teaching them how to escape danger zones and where to go during earthquake are also very important to minimise casualties. Qiu said Bangladesh needs to explore all the aspects, including the technical ones, in making urban and rural planning to make sure everyone is living in a ‘relatively safer’ place.

Bangladesh, having over 160 million people and the highest in the population density, is located on the world’s largest river delta. The country is close to sea level, which exposes it to tsunamis and the possibility of rivers jumping their banks in the event of earthquake.

Describing the experience Sichuan 2008 earthquake, one of the largest earthquakes in human history in terms of socio-economic losses, Qui said he knows well Bangladesh is at high risk of earthquake. “When I was doing my PhD in the UK 20 years back, I discussed it with my friends from Bangladesh and Pakistan.”

Explaining technical aspects of precautionary measures, he said all must avoid the ‘fracture point’ areas while building settlement or reconstruction of building. “No matter how solid the structure is, there is no use as it will be broken during the earthquake if the fracture points are not avoided.”  Qui suggested avoiding building construction or reconstruction in flood-prone area as it fuels certain degree of floods due to earthquake.

He also recommended avoiding building construction, reconstruction and building settlement in the areas of rock-mud (hill-bed) and mud-flow areas as rock flow or mud and landslide will damage building and there will be no use even the best materials are used.

Describing their own experiences and based on their studies, the urban and rural planner said, “We understand, the buildings as long as these are built with certain standards, the destruction will not be big enough and damage will not be fatal or catastrophic.”

Laying emphasis on education and awareness campaign, Qiu said education is very important. “You need to raise awareness among ordinary people to increase their understanding and knowledge about earthquake. We have to teach them techniques how escape and stay strong mentally.”

Deputy Director, Department of Foreign and Overseas Chinese Affairs, Sichuan Provincial Government, Zhang Wenpeng and journalists from Bangladesh and Nepal were present at the press interaction. The officials shared the experiences of post-disaster reconstruction of Sichuan Province, potential of tourism in the province and how trade and economic cooperation between the Province and countries like Bangladesh and Nepal can be boosted in the days to come.

Later, the journalists were taken to epicenter of the Sichuan 2008 earthquake and shown the destruction there. The authorities developed tourism surrounding the areas and kept some of the damages buildings ‘unrevoked’ where huge tourists from various parts of the world visit and pay respect to the victims.

In terms of the energy released, the Magnitude 7.9 earthquake that struck Sichuan province in China on May 12, 2008 was not a record-setter. But the destruction it shaped, and the number of people it affected, certainly it made stand-out shocking event. Data show some 87,150 people were killed and missing while 4,800,000 left homeless due to the earthquake. China had to spend US$ 137.5 billion on rebuilding the affected areas.

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