6.1 magnitude earthquake is a warning for preparedness

28 November 2021

An earthquake of 6.1 magnitude was felt in Dhaka, Chattogram and some other parts of the country on Friday. The tremor should be taken as a serious warming and the government should take steps to enforce the National Building Code as properly designed and constructed buildings can help save lives during quakes. The US Geological Survey said the epicentre of the quake was near Hakha, Chin State, Myanmar. A major earthquake in the past had its epicentre within 50km of Hakha. No quake of over 6 magnitude jolted the area in the last 50 years and there is a risk of another major quake there. To reduce the loss of life in case of a massive quake, the new buildings must be earthquake resilient and the old ones made resilient.
 Experts have called for conducting a survey to identify the buildings in Dhaka that are particularly vulnerable to quakes. According to the draft Detailed Area Plan of Dhaka, there are 21 lakh buildings in the city and about six lakh of those are above six stories. The Rajdhani Unnayan Kartripakkha has checked 3,252 school buildings in the city and found 90 per cent of them not resilient to earthquakes. The government should check every building in the city and take steps to make them resilient. A BUET survey between 1999 and 2005 found unplanned urbanisation in Dhaka and construction of buildings ignoring the building code were rampant.
 Non-compliance with the building code by both public and private sector builders has been making Dhaka vulnerable. There are 13 small geological faults in Bangladesh that can lead to an earthquake anytime. Sixty-five percent of the land in Dhaka is on soft soil. Structures on soft soil are particularly vulnerable as waves of tremor remain active for a longer time in such soil. The government should gear up preparedness to face any earthquake in the urban areas as the cities are particularly more vulnerable to tremors.

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