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Is India prepared to deal with Turkey-like earthquake? Experts answer

By | Edited by Aniruddha Dhar, New Delhi
Feb 12, 2023 08:20 PM IST

An expert said India is witnessing micro tremors regularly which, in turn, is helping release tectonic stress and offering protection from the possibility of a devastating event.

The casualties from the devastating Turkey-Syria earthquake have crossed 33,000-mark and are expected to double (according to UN relief chief Martin Griffiths's grim prediction), making it one of the deadliest natural catastrophes of recent times. Experts have answered some questions on the possibility and effects of such large-scale events in India.

(Representative Image)
(Representative Image)

An expert said India is witnessing micro tremors regularly which, in turn, is helping release tectonic stress and offering protection from the possibility of a devastating event.

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"The triple junction on India's western side near the border with Pakistan is continuously releasing stress due to the occurrence of micro-level earthquakes. There are a few earthquakes of magnitude 4 and 5 as well," news agency PTI quoted OP Mishra, director at the ministry of earth sciences' National Centre for Seismology.

Also read | India sends seventh flight with relief to Turkey and Syria

Referred to as a point where three tectonic plates meet and interact, triple junction can be the site of significant seismic and volcanic activity. The movement of the plates – which causes build-up of stress and strain in the Earth's crust – is eventually released in the form of earthquakes. "Triple junctions are rigid and compact and withstand a lot of stress. If it breaks, the entire stress is released, causing a lot of damage," Mishra explained.

Explaining why Turkey suffered such a massive jolt (7.8 magnitude), Mishra reasoned it was due to accumulated stress as the region had seen no small earthquakes."Turkey saw several powerful earthquakes within 24 hours because the couple zone area was quite big and it took time to break away," he said.

He also underlined that the impact of a large-scale earthquake can be reduced if bylaws and codes to build resilient structures are complied with.

Also read | Earthquake of 4 magnitude jolts parts of Assam

The resonant frequency of a building – which is its national frequency of vibration – also plays a critical role in determining the level of damage during an earthquake. A significant damage can take place if the frequency of the ground motion matches or is more than the resonant frequency of a building. "The frequency of the buildings in the affected region in Turkey was less than the frequency of ground motion. Hence, the structures collapsed like a pack of cards," Mishra said.

Is India prepared to deal with such a high-intensity earthquake?

Experts said the country is well-planned to deal with such emergencies, adding there is a dedicated, well-equipped and trained force – the National Disaster Response Force– which has the resources to reach the right place at the right time.

"The NDRF and the National Institute of Disaster Management under the overall guidance of the National Disaster Management Authority is also carrying out capacity development of the entire country and reaching down to the community level with the help of all stakeholders, including public enterprises, private organisations and NGOs," said Major General Manoj Kumar Bindal, former executive director at National Institute of Disaster Management, Ministry of Home Affairs. Moreover, every state has its own disaster response force, he said.

Asserting there is a total paradigm shift towards effective response and mitigation, he said, “India is now increasing the resilience of communities to enable people to rebound after a disaster”.

He, however, pointed out at one of the major issues that the country is facing regarding earthquake preparedness. "Though new buildings are being sanctioned based on designs that adhere to seismic codes, the issue that we are facing is more than 90 per cent of the existing buildings are based on old technology and most of them are non-engineered structures, especially in rural areas," Major Gen Bindal said. So it's a massive work to convert the old, non-engineered structures that do not adhere to seismic codes, like in Delhi, to earthquake-proof buildings, he added.

He mentioned that guidelines have been issued by the NDMA for training masons and retrofitting existing buildings, starting with critical infrastructure belonging to the government and private institutions such as schools and colleges.

(With PTI inputs)

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    A journalist with 4+ years with digital media, Shubhangi Gupta covers political, world, and business news for Hindustan Times, New Delhi.

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