A quake that was felt in entire Bangladesh for nearly two minutes from 6:40:47pm had its epicentre in Sikkim, India. It was the strongest tremor to have hit the region in the last six decades. The tremor damaged a number of buildings and structures in parts of the country. However, no casualty was reported in Bangladesh.
Met officials in Dhaka said the earthquake’s epicentre was nearly 495 kilometres north-west of the capital and the depth of the hypocentre was 20.7km.
A building in Bogra’s Satmatha area tilted slightly as the earthquake hit the town. The tremor also damaged at least 20 makeshift houses in Natore. Thousands of nervous people hurried out of their homes into the street in fear of aftershocks in Rajshahi, Lalmonirhat, Barisal, Brahmanbaria and Chapainawabganj.
Four rental power plants in Tangail, Thakurgaon, Jessore and Syedpur went off for nearly 30 minutes on impact of the quake, said Saiful Hasan Chowdhury, director of public relations department of the Power Development Board. Nearly 300 miners at Baropukuria coal mine remained trapped for about 20 minutes for power failure caused by the quake. They were rescued after power supply was restored.
Prof. Mehdi Ahmed Ansary, Secretary General, Bangladesh Earthquake Society (BES) said the capital did not face any widespread damage as the earthquake’s epicentre was far away and its hypocentre was 21 km below the surface. Many buildings would have been damaged in the capital and elsewhere if the tremor had recorded a 7.5 magnitude with a higher depth of its hypocentre, he said. Giving an example, Mehdi said a 7.5 magnitude tremor jolted the Mexico City in 1985 damaging all high-rises in the city. The earthquake’s epicentre was in the sea — nearly 700 km off the city, he added. Mehdi said there are lands that had been developed by filling up wetlands. The buildings built there are highly vulnerable to earthquake.
Steps to be taken to minimize the losses: Being prepared and taking the right steps before, during and after the earthquake can minimize the losses.
- One should remain calm when an earthquake occurs
- One shouldn’t start running or try to leave his/her house immediately
- If one is in bed, he/she may cover his/her head with the pillow
- One may take shelter beneath a furniture, such as- table
- One should stay away from the balcony, window, cupboard, kitchen and any hanging object
- If possible, the electricity and gas supply should be turned off immediately
- Lifts shouldn’t be used
- People inside a garments factory, hospital or market shouldn’t form a crowd near the entrance to get out
After the initial shake, the earth might shake at frequent intervals, hence:
- After the first shake, people should leave their home and take shelter in the empty space between stairs
- Distance should be maintained from high storied buildings, electric and telephone cables
- If one smells any gas or any chemical; a safe distance should be maintained
- Radio should be used to find important information
- Arrangements for first aid treatment should be kept
- Organizations involved in rescuing should receive co-operation.
- At the time of rescuing, elderly, sick or handicapped people and children should be given preference
- During earthquake, distance should be maintained from damaged buildings, bridges etc.
- Everyone should be prepared for the occurrence of an earthquake
- Building code should be maintained while constructing buildings. A minimal distance should be maintained between the buildings to make the rescuing process less complicated
- Gas, electricity and water supply should be checked regularly.
- Emergency routes should be made clear to leave houses, for example- emergency stairs
- Heavy furniture and hanging objects might cause accidents during earthquakes; hence the hanging objects should be firmly attached to the wall.
- The doors should be such that they can be opened from both inside and outside. Hence, a heavy furniture falls in front of the door, the door can be opened from outside.
- The telephone numbers of fire station, hospital or clinics should be collected and the numbers should be displayed in a visible place so that everyone notices.
- In each ward, there should be a place where people can take shelter during earthquakes
- Along with hospitals, fire stations, radio-televisions, main offices of relief and rescue organizations should also be a part of this campaign.
- Ward commissioners and the members of Union Parishads should lead committees and involve qualified people in these activities.
Prepared By: Sumaya Noor