17-23 July 2015 #767

Preparing to be prepared

A selection of coverage from the last 15 years of Nepali Times of the need for earthquake preparedness

A selection of coverage from the last 15 years of Nepali Times of the need for earthquake preparedness. These and more stories can be searched and read in the online archives on www.nepalitimes.com

Nepal is on a major seismic zone, the mountains are young and exposed to heavy monsoon erosion. We know this, so it should not be a surprise to us when earthquakes happen or when landslides occur. What we have to ask ourselves is this: what are we doing to prepare ourselves for future calamities that will surely come?

Editorial, #6, 23-29 Aug 2000

An earthquake of similar, if not greater, magnitude as the one that hit Gujarat last Friday can hit Kathmandu anytime. Studies reveal that about 60 percent of Valley buildings are non-engineered. An official at the Building Permit Section in Kathmandu revealed that almost a third of the houses constructed are illegal. 

Quake alert, by Hemlata Rai, #28, 2-8 Feb 2001

What is frightening to many is not the memory of that fateful day 70 years ago in January 1934. Many were reminded just how bad it could be when they watched the devastation of the Iranian city of Bam last month, where 50,000 people were killed.  Given Kathmandu’s rampant growth and flimsy housing, those who die here may be the lucky ones. 

Seventy years after, by Naresh Newar, #178, 9-15 Jan 2004

Up here in Florida, for the third time in a little over a month, people were asked to leave their homes in threatened areas. I wonder at times like this about Nepal and its earthquake preparation strategy. I can hear people snorting into their tea all over the kingdom. Preparation? Strategy? Yet, if Nepal doesn’t take its earthquake scenarios seriously, it is well and truly doomed.

The Big One, by Daniel Lak, #215, 24-29 Sep 2006   “The thing we learnt from Haiti is that preparedness can make a difference. But to take that commitment and turn it into practical action, that’s a little tougher. How do you bring a new paradigm, a new approach to disaster preparedness?” 

Doing nothing is not an option”, Interview with American ambassador Scott H DeLisi, #536, 14-20 Jan 2011

Thousands of children were killed in the Sichuan earthquake because of corruption and shoddy school construction. A 1998 study of nearly 400 government schools in Kathmandu Valley showed that a 1934 type earthquake would kill nearly 30,000 students and teachers outright and injure another 43,000. Since that survey, the number of schools has more than doubled. After a quake, the injured can’t be rushed to hospitals because roads will be blocked and hospitals will have also collapsed.

Editorial, #587, 14 -20 Jan 2012

Most earthquake experts have given up on the government getting its act together quickly enough on enforcing building codes to prevent future earthquakes from killing people. They are focusing on the aftermath: planning for rescue and relief, but even that will be a daunting challenge.

Where the quake will hit hardest, by Rubeena Mahato, #587, 14 -20 Jan 2012

It’s that time of the year again, as Nepal gears up to mark another anniversary of the devastating 8.4 magnitude earthquake that struck Kathmandu at 2:30 pm on 15 January 1934 and killed at least 10,000 people. But the consequences of an earthquake of similar strength are so unthinkable that no one seems to know where to start. 

Thinking the unthinkable, by Kunda Dixit, #638, 13-19 Jan 2013

We call them ‘natural disasters’: earthquakes, floods, landslides. Yet, earthquakes don’t kill people, unsafe buildings do. Most disasters may be natural, but the casualties are largely manmade.

Disastrous management, Editorial, #722, 29 Aug - 5 Sept 2014

Endless political gridlock and dead-end development has distracted government attention from preparing for a long overdue mega-earthquake in Kathmandu , a city that experts say is the most vulnerable in the world to seismic risk. A bill to set up a Disaster Risk Management Commission is stuck in parliament, and a turf war between line ministries has left contingency plans in limbo.

Preparing to be prepared, by Kunda Dixit #720, 9-15 Jan 2015


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