Earthquakes are fast appearing to be a regular occurrence across the world in recent times. Morocco was the last big-scale victim in September, and another powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 had erupted on Saturday night off the coast of the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. In addition, earlier this year Turkey and Syria have also experienced deadly earthquakes claiming lives of thousands while perishing properties worth billions.
However, in the midst of big-scale quakes, a moderate earthquake also jolted the whole country on Saturday morning. According to United States Geological Survey (USGS), the magnitude of the earthquake was 5.5 and the quake had a depth of 10 kilometres with the epicentre located about 8 kilometres east-northeast of Ramganj in Comilla.
An ominous fact which needs to be conveyed to our readers right now is that nearly 100 mild to medium size tremors - ranging mostly between 3.5 to 5 Richter scale - have erupted in Bangladesh this year.
Given the Saturday quake's magnitude of 5.5 in the Richter scale, it could have been disastrous if it had struck at a deeper location.
What is even more disturbing is that around 250,000 buildings in our 3 major cities of Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet have been reported to be extremely vulnerable to earthquakes. And in terms of percentage - 24 percent of buildings in Dhaka, 46 percent in Sylhet and 79 percent in Chattogram have been detected as risky. Moreover, all 3 cities are sitting on 'Hot Zones' and our experts have repeatedly warned of a strong earthquake stemming out from any of the three faults will cause massive destruction to buildings, bridges and supply channels of utility services while resulting in deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.
Most important to note is that Bangladesh is geographically sitting on a subduction zone. Local and international experts have often opined, energy accumulated in the plates is likely to cause a more than 8 magnitude earthquake, and the energy can get released anytime. All the recent tremors along the fault line are clearly hinting at the apprehension meaning, a mega-shock is almost inevitable.
Need of the hour is to focus on short-term preparedness programme beginning with educating people about ways to survive and cut down damage during a convulsion. Besides, both social and our main stream media must jump in quick, so to create mass awareness among the people. Furthermore, it is also important to carryout small-scale mock drills in densely populated parts of the city.
Lest we forget - many densely populated areas in our three major cities are markedly difficult for carrying out rescue operations, it is even difficult because of far too many high-rising buildings.
Earthquakes do not erupt with forewarnings. Time is ticking.
Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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