Debris. Loss. Despair. Escalating death tolls. Homes lost. Kids separated from parents. Families wiped out. Buildings reduced to rubble. Cities torn down. Villages buried. Lives lost. Tears of misery shed. Relief and rescue efforts. Everything thrown out of focus. An entire country brought to a standstill. A mountain moved. This was how Nepal found itself in the wake of the earthquake Gorkha. With more than 8,800 killed news of this quake shook up the entire world. The planet is mourning the destruction caused by this earthquake. The people of Nepal were ambushed with no warning, by this seismic giant. Everyone is looking to find out where the next quake may hit. Could it be their country next? Their city? Their village? It doesn’t hurt to be prepared, does it? Well here is a list of the most likely places to be hit by an earthquake in the years to come.
“Whenever an earthquake or tsunami takes thousands of innocent lives, a shocked world talks of little else.”
-Anne. M. Mulcahy
A quake measuring 6.0 on the Richter scale would take the lives of an estimated twelve thousand people in a place of 1 million. The city is prone to seismic threats and the violation of building code only intensifies the mass damages that follow the earthquake. A report titled “Probabilistic Seismic Hazard Analysis of Islamabad” by a group of researchers from two universities states that the city’s posh areas are more prone to seismic hazards. Its proximity to the sea is also a factor to be considered in the face of an earthquake. Monitoring the construction of government and private buildings with proper supervision is imperative to minimize the effects of seismic activities.
“Anytime you dump that amount of kinetic energy into a major city, bad things will happen,” said Gregory Beroza, a Stanford University seismologist. This is especially true for a highly populated city like Mexico City which has about 20 million people. Many factors can highly amplify the effects of tremors including the extremely soft soil conditions from the old lake bed under the city, overloading of buildings and structural defects present in the buildings. The economic loss from a seismic impact on this city could severely impair the nation.
Located on three fault lines there is no escaping the possibility of an imminent earthquake. This coastal city is likely to experience tremors in the time to come. A popular tourist destination located in the Aegis region of Western Turkey, preparation is the key to prevent widespread devastation in this city.
Sprawling over 500 square miles and home to 14 million people Delhi also houses two fault lines – Delhi-Haridwar ridge and Delhi-Moradabad faults which present the likelihood of tremors in this city next. Dense population and poorly designed buildings can equip the earthquake with the ability to wipe out scores of lives in the city. Sandy soil in many regions of Delhi makes it unsuitable for high rise buildings but almost overnight buildings are being constructed grossly violating building codes. The capital of India, any loss of productivity in this city will hit the economy of the nation as a whole.
Another Japanese city featured in this list is Osaka, the center of Japan’s economy and culture. Like the country’s capital, this is also sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire and prone to earthquakes which pose risks to human lives. A catastrophe in Osaka will result in a loss of productivity which will affect not only Japan but have a global impact. Besides earthquakes danger lurks in tsunamis and storm surges for this city.
Tokyo follows closely behind Los Angeles in this list. Experts claim that there is a seventy percent chance of an earthquake in the next forthcoming years. This is alarming news to a city harboring 13 million people and which underwent a turbulent period less than four years ago. Studies also suggest that the frequency of occurrence of the quakes has risen since the March 11 quakes. Though the newer buildings are capable of withstanding an earthquake, the damages caused will be tangible.
The second populous city in the United States, Los Angeles has been in a lull and this might imply an impending seismic hazard soon. There is every likelihood of an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale hitting the city in the next three decades. These greater odds of tremors have been attributed to multi-fault ruptures, where earthquakes are not caused due to a single fault but multiple faults rupturing simultaneously. The city is well equipped to take on an earthquake but it still leaves a lot to be desired.
That the capital of Indonesia could be among the most prone-to-be-hit by an earthquake city is not a surprise considering it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is estimated that should tremors hit it will stir the city into a state of havoc, loss and ruination. Compounding this is the fact that half the city is below sea level with soft soil and this city is most likely to liquefy in the face of seismic activity.
Precariously perched on one of the longest and most energetic fault line, the North Anatolian Fault, Istanbul could well be the next scene of a major seismic event. The silence of a major fault line can only imply two things – The tectonic plates are sliding over one another placidly or tension is accruing as I write which will eventually look to let off steam or in this case a seismic release. Istanbul is a large city, home to millions, and houses buildings which are not morally sound when it comes to complying with building codes thus making it very susceptible to some major devastation.
Tehran, a city of twelve million, is seated on top of a major fault line that threatens the way of life of the people of Tehran should it turn active. Ranging 47 miles in length with a number of smaller fractures, should an earthquake hit the devastation would be immense. Tehran is particularly vulnerable to damage and loss due to the crass violation of building codes, besides the soft and brittle nature of the ground in Tehran makes it unfavorable to build on. There are on an average three to four earthquakes of up to three on the Richter scale hitting the city every day! It’s only a matter of time before these tremors brim over flooding the city with destruction, loss, hopelessness and misery!
“We pulled a child out with its grandmother earlier. They did not survive. I am most sad. It has been a very bad experience and a terrible and very difficult day. The hospitals are out of control. We need help.”
“There are crowds of people on the streets here and the hospitals are already overwhelmed. Hundreds of people are on the street preparing to sleep outside amid fears of aftershocks.”
These are excerpts from people who witnessed the earthquake in Nepal firsthand. Doctors, nurses, policemen, soldiers, tourists and the most important, the common man all gave accounts of what happened. And coming from their lips the misery of what followed from the earthquake can be visualized. The least we can do to lessen the pain and loss that follows is by being prepared and staying informed. And hopefully, this list will help accomplish just that.