GeoHazards to combat quake hazards in Aizawl

Aizawl, Apr 26 : GeoHazards International, a global society, has stepped in to help combat earthquake hazards in Aizawl, the state capital of mountainous Mizoram which falls under seismic zone-V, highly vulnerable to earthquake.

GeoHazards Society president Hari Kumar and Mizoram disaster management & rehabilitation department's principal secretary P C Lallawmsanga signed a memorandum of understanding to this effect in Aizawl yesterday, an official source said today.

"It is a two-year project. A team of GeoHazards has conducted a survey on different landslide-prone zones in Aizawl. After studying the report at their headquarters in San Francisco, US, they will come back in October this year," the official source said.

The team comprises six from US and five from India, who were earthquake engineers, land use planners, seismologists and geologists.

Residents of Aizawl face an exceptionally high level of earthquake risk due to concrete buildings up to ten stories built without earthquake-resistant features on steep, landslide-prone slopes. Aizawl has few local technical resources to help local leaders develop the mitigation measures necessary to avoid massive loss of life in a major earthquake and to make meaningful improvements in earthquake safety.

With funding support from Munich Re, the GeoHazards International project team will begin to address Aizawl's urgent need for measures to improve earthquake safety, by providing local-and eventually, national-government leaders with actionable information on Aizawl's earthquake risk and mitigation options.

The project team has collected baseline information on Aizawl's buildings and infrastructure vulnerability, population exposure and landslide hazard from existing sources, remote sensing data, and fieldwork.

It has also convened a technical assistance panel consisting of international, national and local technical specialists, as well as local leaders, to review available information pertaining to Aizawl's seismic risk and to recommend specific mitigation actions.

The panel would work with GHI to (a) provide judgment-based loss estimates needed to present a convincing case for action to policymakers; (b) develop a set of mitigation options; and (c) provide information to help policymakers choose between mitigation options.

Geologists said Aizawl is located in the geologically complex border area between the Indian and Eurasian Plates. The region was hit by earthquakes exceeding magnitude 8 on the Richter Scale in 1869, 1897 and 1918.

A key factor of the project is to secure long-term involvement of local specialists early on, and develop viable risk mitigation options with them based on the best available data.

The local measures include, for example, training in what to do if an earthquake occurs, and the structural consolidation of state buildings like schools, hospitals and other major infrastructure.
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