Earthquakes: South Asia
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Apr 27 2015
Earthquakes are inevitable in almost the entire cross-section of the Himalayas and adjoining plains and a population of more than 50 million is at risk, says a scientific paper that studied the hazard in the aftermath of the 2001 Bhuj temblor. The situation is akin to a ticking bomb. The study , Himalayan Seismic Hazard, published in Science magazine in 2001, says the longer the time interval between the last big earthquake in the region and the next major one, the higher the possibility of future quake unleashing more devastation.
“The population of India has doubled since the last great Himalayan earthquake in 1950 (in Assam). The urban population in the Ganges plain has increased by a factor of 10 since the 1905 earthquake, when collapsing buildings killed 19,500 people.Today , about 50 million people are at risk from great Himalayan earthquakes, many of them in towns and villages in the Ganges plain. The capital cities of Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Pakistan and several other cities with more than a million inhabit ants are vulnerable to dam age from some of these future earthquakes,“ the paper says.
The exploding population in the region greatly increases the risk of casualties.The paper compares the 1819 Kutch quake with the 2001 Bhuj temblor to illustrate the dangers.
“The population of Kachch has increased by a factor of 10. Around 2,000 fatalities occurred in 1819, compared to the 18,000 confirmed and possibly 30,000 unconfirmed fatalities (in Bhuj). The implemented seismic code apparently did not lessen the percentage of the population killed,“ it says.
“Projecting these figures to just one of the possibly several overdue Himalayan earthquakes (for example a repeat of the Kangra 1905 event) yields 2,00,000 predictable fatalities. Such an estimate may be too low by an order of magnitude should a great earthquake occur near one of the megacities in the Ganges plain,“ it concludes.