Frequent smaller earthquakes

We must get prepared to face catastrophe.

Published : 04 Oct 2023 10:16 PM

At least 34 mild earthquakes observed in and around Bangladesh in the last two months may predict a major tremor shortly. Of them only six were felt by people in the country. 

The experts expressed grave concern about the frequent mild earthquakes and the country’s preparedness.

In Bangladesh, where threats to life or well-being are a daily reality, it can seem difficult to prepare for threats such as a single catastrophic event in the distant future. However, this is what we need to do now, especially if we want to minimize the damage from any major earthquake. Such a threat to our country especially in the capital Dhaka may be closer than we think, and when it materializes, it will most likely leave a trail of unimaginable destruction.

Recently again, a 5.4 magnitude earthquake was felt across the country at around 6.45 pm on Monday. According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the epicenter of the earthquake was located approximately 24 kilometers south of Goalpara in Assam, India, at a depth of 10 kilometers. 

While the massive humanitarian crisis that recently erupted in Turkey and Syria following a magnitude 7.5 earthquake may have many worried about our lack of earthquake preparedness, it remains to be seen whether this will lead to meaningful action. 

With strong political will, 

we must plan and prepare accordingly

After all, we have historically spent far more to combat natural disasters than to reduce their risk. Experts this time warned against this trend, saying that the small tremors observed in recent years may predict a major tremor shortly. As amazing as they sound, there is no denying the numbers published by earthquake experts. As the world's most congested city, Dhaka is a naturally high-risk area for natural or man-made disasters. Add to those dangerous buildings, often built without following building codes or filling in wetlands. Most of them are not quake-proof and are still poorly maintained, which has caused several fires and explosions in recent times. Apart from the ignorance and greed of the building owners, Rajuk itself is largely responsible for the unplanned urbanization of the area or the dismal condition of many residential/commercial buildings. Therefore, with strong political will, we must plan and prepare accordingly. Any action by the authorities, especially Rajuk, must reflect the urgency we face. In the post-earthquake situation, we have to build capacity for rapid response, rescue and evacuation operations, and adequate treatment facilities for hospitals. We need to have special facilities across the country to provide shelter to the homeless after an earthquake. We should train a large number of volunteers and rescue teams. We need to widen our narrow roads so that civil defense and fire engines can easily navigate to their destination.