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Burma Awakens to Serious Earthquake Risk
Yangon, Myanmar's biggest town, felt a big lump in the middle of the middle of the night last week. Earthquakes between the two towns, in the early morning of January 12. South-East Asia is well used to earthquakes, but there are concerns that the disaster of a severe quake would overpower Myanmar's already sparsely populated regime and destroy the delicate growth benefits of recent years.
Myanmar's main towns, Yangon, Naypyidaw and the north centre of Mandalay, are all near the Sagaing Fault, which divides Myanmar from the north Kachin state through the dry zone into the Andaman Sea. The Kyaukkyan fault in the East Highland was the origin of the largest Myanmar quake, which was measured at 8.0 in 1912.
More than 30 subsurface earthquake sites in Myanmar started last year are recording four to five small quakes a working days, according to the Singapore Earth Observation Centre that worked on the MYD. Up to 10 million lives are affected by the great The Sagaing Fault, which cast a veil over the evolution of Yangon, the trading city.
When rural to municipal migrations increases, the Yangon administration will project 5. 2 million people to almost double by 2040. The geologist says the disturbance section exposed by Yangon is intended for a major tremor. VOA was informed by Professor Myo Thant, vice-chairman of the Myanmar seismic committee, that the repeat frequency for an 8.0 magnitude seismic event is 80-100 years or more.
However, there are indications that the authorities are becoming more conscious of the menace. Chauk -Effekt Myo Thant and Saw Htwe Zaw, an earthquake committee vice-chairman, an engineering graduate, have been working for two dozen years to plan the country's earthquake-risks. They work with international colleges and institutions and with U.N.-Habitat, the United Nations' citybureau.
They both declared to VOA that they are motivated by the high levels of activities in recent month. One of these was a U.N.-supported emergency room simulator for the government of the Mandalay and Naypyidaw regions on February 1 and 2. It was the first real-time test of the NPC, under the chairmanship of Vice President Henry Van Thio, described in the 2013 Natural Disaster Management Act.
In December, a nearly $1 million European Commission-backed programme was started to develop a seismic prevention and response policy and to implement seismic awareness in areas at risk. At the end of January, two Yangon suburban colleges carried out a local, Japan-funded tidal wave exercise to respond to a direct seismic scourge.
The SEEDS Asia, an organisation in Japan that supported the training, has also conducted training sessions in Yangon and the Ayeyarwadi Coast. In a tribute to the reaction to the August 2016 Chauk quake that devastated the temple at the Bagan tourism attraction in Kenya's main Myanmar district and put the quakes on the government's agendas, Myo Thant and Saw Htwe Zaw of the seismic committee paid tribute.
"At times these surges are the best way to strengthen both the administration and the interest of the public," Yoko Okura, SEEDS Asia country representatives, said to VOA. Yangon's abandoned municipal infrastructures have become a key focus, but security levels are at odds with the government's desire for large investments and rapid growth in residential populations.
Last year, a new earthquake-proof construction regulation, which is being supervised by seismic committee members, was presented to the state. According to Saw Htwe Zaw, it has not yet come into force or even been interpreted from English into Burmese, and it is not clear when it will come into force. It would deliver a sound security plan for proposed extensions and satellites in Mandalay and Yangon, but it would do nothing for older build.
There are many in Yangon who are in a state of wreck. There is no help from the shortage of a sustainable insuring and a general shortage of resources for expensive repair, nor are the building completion certificates from Yangon City Council, which do not need to be subsequently assessed for re-sale either. However, the seismic committee has carried out seismic hazard evaluations for several municipalities, and is now evaluating Yangon, beginning with some of its townships, with a focus on retrofit policies.
Meanwhile, the World Bank has declared its willingness to finance the strengthening of around a decade of Yangon's municipal facilities. Myanmar's denigrated multinational army junta condemned Cyclone Nargis by rejecting humanitarian action while largely refraining from the dead and devastation for which the nation was so ill-prepared.
VOA's programme director for U.N. Habitat, Shashank Mishra, said the U.N. administration is very sensitive to external counselling and relief in the event of disaster. However, seismic precautions are beginning at a very low point. Myanmar's municipalities generally lack a general order of meeting places and strengthened accommodations with shelter.
Htwe Zaw acknowledged that it is "still a long way to go" before the government takes the big chances it is exposed to.