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Can we predict Earthquakes?
With present state of knowledge of science, it is not possible to predict earthquake. It is so because the physics involved in earthquake genesis is very complex. The mechanism of earthquake generating processes is still not adequately understood us because of involvement of multi-component parameters in earthquake genesis.
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There are several school of thoughts on the earthquake prediction, notable among is Jim Berkland, a retired geologist from USGS, who, according to his supporters, has 80% accuracy rates. Recently a book by Cal Orey was released.
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South Asian Profile

Most parts of south Asian countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Pakistan) are seismically very vulnerable because of their close proximity to the young and dynamic Himalayan belt, extending from Northwest to Northeast. There were several past damaging earthquakes hit the countries of south Asia, especially by large magnitude earthquakes that inflicted a huge loss to both property and person (Please see Table South Asian Earthquakes).

Most recently, the 2005 Muzaffrabad earthquake (Mw 7.6) caused a huge loss of property and lives of people of Kashmir. About 85,000 people reported to have killed during the earthquake. The 1934 Nepal – Bihar earthquake (Mw 8.0) was another example that killed about 12,000 people of two countries, Nepal and India. India's high earthquake risk and vulnerability is evident from the fact that about 59 per cent of India's land area could face moderate to severe earthquakes. During the period 1990 to 2006, more than 23,000 lives were lost due to 6 major earthquakes in India, which also caused enormous damage to property and public infrastructure. The occurrence of several devastating earthquakes in areas hitherto considered safe from earthquakes indicates that the built environment in the country is extremely fragile and our ability to prepare ourselves and effectively respond to earthquakes is inadequate. Some facts on Indian earthquake risk scenario can be found.

The building collapse results in the widespread loss of lives and property including lifeline infrastructure like roads, dams and bridges, hospitals as well as public utilities like power and water supply installations. Past earthquakes have shown that over 95 per cent of the lives lost were due to the collapse of buildings that were not earthquake-resistant. Though there are no. of earthquake resistant design codes and other regulations available proper implementation of these urgently requires serious attention.

India has advanced considerably in developing earthquake resistant codes of practice and guidelines for constructing RCC and steel framed buildings, brick or stone masonry buildings and combination of clay, wood, bamboo and thatched houses. Yet high level of earthquake risk in our country�s context is mostly attributed to the unplanned and ill planned urban infrastructures developments. In order to reduce vulnerability it is important to create proper awareness about earthquake induced damages and their mitigation measures.

During the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) observed by the United Nations (UN) in the 1990s, India witnessed several earthquakes like the Uttarkashi earthquake of 1991, the Latur earthquake of 1993, the Jabalpur earthquake of 1997, and the Chamoli earthquake of 1999. Some of the photographs of Indian earthquakes are available here Click here

These were followed by the Bhuj earthquake of 26 January 2001 and the Jammu & Kashmir earthquake of 8 October 2005. All these major earthquakes established that the casualties were caused primarily due to the collapse of buildings. However, similar high intensity earthquakes in the United States, Japan, etc., do not lead to such enormous loss of lives, as the structures in these countries are built with structural mitigation measures and earthquake-resistant features.

The National Information Center of Earthquake Engineering hosted at Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur is intended to collect and maintain information resources on Earthquake Engineering and make these available to the interested professionals, researchers, academicians and others with a view to mitigate earthquake disasters in India.Various initiatives taken up by Ministry of Home Affairs.
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Some of the important issues in earthquake risk mitigation in Indian context are:

  • Earthquake hazard and risk mitigation
  • Earthquake resistant design and rehabilitation of structures
  • Indian standards and guidelines on earthquake technology
  • Seismic evaluations and retrofitting of lifeline buildings
  • Disaster safe construction practices and issues
  • Techno-legal and techno-financial framework for earthquake protection compliance
  • Training and Capacity building of masons, architect and engineers
  • India Govt. initiatives in the earthquake risk reduction

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Global Profile
Globally, earthquakes have caused massive destruction upto the present day. It represents a risk to many countries of the world, particularly western North and South America, Japan, China, the Phillipines, New Zealand, northern part of India and the middle east region. Most recently, about 20,000 people were reported either killed or missing during the great mega-thrust tsunamigenic Japan earthquake (Mw 9.0) that struck on 11th March 2011 beneath the NE Japan forearc region. Besides, a great killer earthquake of magnitude (Mw 7.9) hit Haiti in January 2010 in which about 223,000 people were killed. Other earthquake which caused a severe loss to property and person during the year 2010 are China and Chile earthquake. A comprehensive details of earthquake as a science and understanding of various facts that lead to enormous damages and destructions are available here Click here.
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