Bangladesh At Risk Of Major Earthquake, We Must Be Prepared

The aerial view of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh || Photo: Collected

The aerial view of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh || Photo: Collected

Bangladesh is gradually becoming earthquake-prone. Often, the country experiences minor and moderate tremors. While these earthquakes may not cause significant damage, experts are concerned about the possibility of major earthquakes with extensive destruction in the future.

In Dhaka city, the fear is that if an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 7 occurs, it could lead to the immediate collapse of 72,000 buildings. This could result in widespread casualties and fires. The recent rescue operation at Rana Plaza has taken us 15 days, and there are similar concerns for other buildings. It is essential to assess our preparedness for such events right now.

In recent times, on September 17th, there were mild earthquakes lasting about 50 seconds in Dhaka and several northern districts. According to the Richter scale, the magnitude of these quakes was 4.2, and the epicenter was 59 kilometers northwest of Dhaka. This was the third earthquake in the country in the last 9 days. Earlier, on September 11th, an earthquake was felt in the Sylhet region, with its epicenter on the India-Myanmar border.

Experts suggest that the frequent occurrence of such earthquakes is due to the converging movement of the Burma Plate and the Indian Plate, resulting in the accumulation of significant energy. They warn that an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.2 to 9 can strike Bangladesh at any time.

The problem is that Bangladesh lacks earthquake preparedness and mitigation measures. Many old and unplanned buildings have not followed building codes, increasing the risk manifold. Since we cannot predict when a major earthquake will strike, we need to initiate earthquake-resistant building construction and code enforcement immediately.

Dhaka is one of the most densely populated cities globally, and it is imperative to install earthquake alarm systems in every building. This would give people time to evacuate safely when an earthquake occurs, whether during the day or at night. Additionally, strict adherence to building codes in construction is essential to prevent earthquake-related damage.

To mitigate the potential risks of earthquakes, long-term planning, and social awareness are crucial.

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