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Earthquake risks in Bangladesh

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Rayhan Ahmed Topader :
A recent GPS report has provided solid proof of the fact that we have known since forever: The Indian Subcontinent is sitting on a brewing and boiling Mega Quake ready for destruction anytime. No research until now can predict when this monster will be unleashed upon us. But when it does, Dhaka city, being one of the most densely populated capitals of the world, will be the hardest hit. For obvious reasons; the cramped up neighborhoods, commercial market places, weak infrastructure The citizens of Dhaka, along with the other danger prone areas, must be prepared for this 9 Richter Scale earthquake on an individual level. Here's all you need to know about how to survive a Mega Quake, and save your family in the process. Before the Earthquake. The first step is to organise your disaster emergency kit. Don't be under the impression that natural disaster is going to give you a head start when you will pack your essentials and walk out. Use a backpack carefully put in all the necessary basic supplies in it and place it somewhere quickly accessible. The necessary supplies include food, three gallons of water per person, medication, a flash light, a whistle to call for rescue, cash, blankets, paper and pen, batteries and a first aid kit. If you have a pet, take its necessary supplies as well. We Know how to turn off gas and electricity supply. Most importantly, create a mental map highlighting the spots in your house, your office or classroom where you are likely to be safer. Choose spots where there is no chance of heavy objects falling on you.
Next, teach the younger ones how to use emergency contact numbers; have family meetings and hold earthquake drills every now and then. The shakes have started, and it's now or never. Don't panic. What you do during the quake depends on where you are at that moment. If you're indoors it's best if you use the drop-cover-hold technique under some wooden furniture like beds or dining tables. Definitely stay away from windows. Taking shelter under a doorway isn't as safe as you might think, so let's not take chances. Do not get out of the building until you know it's safe. It's also very helpful if you can save your head with a pillow. If you are at home, don't leave that emergency kit you packed previously. If you are in a car and there is no traffic, slowly drive to a relatively empty area, where no buildings, bridges or electric poles fall on your car. If you are not inside any vehicles, just run to a park or any such clear locations and drop to the ground. First thing first, spot your family members and neighbours and stay united Don't put down your shield after the shaking stops. You must be prepared for the aftershocks; just repeat the previous tactics. If your building is one of those strong fighters that still stands among ruins, stay in and try fixing and repairing what has been broken. But don't turn on gas supply or electricity supply until the companies assure that it's safe. Try to contact emergency lines for life-threatening situations. Always keep your ears and eyes open for news updates. If anyone can come to your rescue, it's you. Don't be dependent on someone else.
Be alert, look sideways, look above you, look at what's under you feet. First, attend to your wounds and then help others. Remember, it's you family and neighbours and friends; be a responsible citizen and learn what you are up against. Be safe, people in the seismic-excited pla. There are over 72,000 risky buildings in Dhaka city prone to earthquakes," confirmed Md. Shah Kamal, secretary, ministry of relief and disaster management. Experts think that the actual number of earthquake vulnerable buildings is lot more than this. About 90 percent of the old buildings in the capital are non-engineered, which are very risky even for a moderate earthquake. A study conducted by Michigan University pointed that Dhaka is one of the earthquake vulnerable cities because of its unplanned urbanisation. Thickness of the buildings, poor quality construction, poor socio-economic condition and above all poor response management are the main reasons why Dhaka is seriously vulnerable to earthquake. No building code existed in Bangladesh before 1993, and even now, shoddy new construction flouts regulations. The risk of a probable damage due to unplanned urbanisation and construction of buildings defying the Bangladesh National Building Code (BNBC) increases with time. Limitless negligence and corruption in the process have been going on for years. Often people who have enough money can manage permission for building mega structure without studying the earthquake possibility and taking necessary preventive measures.
Rajuk, the principal development authority of the capital, often fails to work efficiently. There are city corporations and some other organisations related to the development process of Dhaka, but there is hardly any coordination between them. If a major earthquake jolts the capital and its periphery, most parts of the city might experience a trail of destruction. As Dhaka is surrounded by four rivers Buriganga, Turag, Shitalakhya and Balu 35 percent of its area is covered with hard soil or red soil but the rest is soft soil, mostly marshy land, some flood plain and abandoned channels and some wide belly. The seismic waves propagate with high velocity through red soil and last for a short period whereas the waves stand for a longer period in soft soil. So, the possibility of damage on soft soil is greater than red soil. The topsoil condition of the belt covering Rampura, the old town, Mohammadpur and Shyamoli is less capable of taking the load of heavy construction compared to the condition of the Mirpur-Uttara-Tongi-Gazipur belt. During earthquake, each building based on its height swings in both directions in a certain predominant mode. When the frequency of the soil and that of the building in a certain place correspond, there is a high probability of having potential damage, Its objective was to strengthen national capacity to manage such risks and ensure response and recovery efforts. About 60,000 volunteers were supposed to be trained, but only 16,000 have been trained so far.
This is not sufficient for earthquake management. My question to the government is despite experts' warning about the high risk of earthquakes, why are mass people not getting information about earthquake preparedness. Why is no precautionary measure being taken? The occurrence of earthquakes is part of the natural process in the earth is geophysical system. Under the present stage of scientific development it is not possible to stop such natural events, and even if it was possible to do so, we should not intervene into such internal system of the earth. In the global context standard earthquake preparedness include the major aspects are like- natural Disaster Policy focusing on earthquake, provide Training and Public Awareness related to earthquake risk, integrate Seismic resistance into the process of new construction, improve emergency response planning and capability, develop safety system of all public buildings, Improve seismic performance of existing buildings and introduce community-based per and post earthquake management. Bangladesh has tremendously improved its management and mitigation measures of natural disasters, like cyclone and flood, but the mitigation strategies regarding earthquake has remained nearly in its infant stage. Bangladesh should take certain measures to mitigate the suffering from earthquake incident. An earthquake atlas is the presentation of facts relating to earthquakes and the guideline for earthquake mitigation measurements at regional scale in the form of map, graphics picture and text.
Such an atlas provides clear guidelines to post disaster rescue operation, regional scale mitigation strategies and stepwise disaster management activities. We do not have any such atlas neither at national level nor a regional level. However, it is the timely demand to prepare and earthquake vulnerability assessment atlas of Bangladesh in general and for the major cities in particular. Large-scale mitigation measurement needs huge initial investment however, to serve human lives and properties, we should not hesitate to do so. Communities and individuals must involve discharging the responsibilities and to observe the formalities in connection of facing this challenges as well as respond rapidly and effectively to disaster situations. Unless these measures are taken seriously and given adequate priority the preparedness in a country like Bangladesh to face the earthquake would remain far from reality. Developments of awareness program educate people regarding the causes and consequences of earthquakes. And also to disseminate knowledge to them regarding their responsibili ties before, during and after the earthquake through seminar, symposium and workshop and also through non-formal education by Go and NGOs. The above discussion clearly indicates that governments' concerned organization alone is not enough to prepare countrywide population in this regards. In the global context, earthquake stands as the number one natural disaster in terms of damage, destruction and loss of lives and properties. It is the most deadly and unpredictable natural event. About 60 percent of the world casualties associated with natural disaster are caused by earthquake.

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