Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 1 December 2004



(2004), "Earthquakes", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 13 No. 5.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited



29 January 2004 IranAn earthquake measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale jolted the vicinity of the Southern city of Bam at 20.59 local time, 16.29 UTC, yesterday evening, reported the Tehran University Geophysics Institute Seismological Centre. There are no reports on possible damage or injuries.

2 February 2004 – Two quakes with magnitudes ranging from 3.5 to four on the Richter scale jolted Southern parts of Iran last night and early this morning. A four-Richter quake hit Bandarabbas (Hormuzgan Province) suburbs at 05.32 local time today, while a 3.5-Richter quake hit Firouzabad in Southern Fars Province at 20.25 local time yesterday, according to Tehran University’s Geophysics Institute. No report is yet available on likely toll or damage caused by the two earthquakes.

3 February 2004 – An earthquake measuring 3.4 degrees on the open-ended Richter scale hit the border areas of Western provinces of Kurdestan and Kermanshah near the city of Paveh early today, IRNA reported from Tehran. The seismological base of the Geophysics Institute, affiliated to Tehran University, said the tremor occurred at 00.30 local time. There was no report of any damage to property caused by the quake.

6 February 2004 – IndonesiaA powerful earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale hit Indonesia’s Papua province early today and a radio station reported damage in one Northwestern town. The geophysics and meteorology agency said the quake struck at 06.05 hours and was centred 9 km Southeast of the town of Nabire. El Shinta news radio reported damage to mosques and an airport in Nabire.

6 February 2004 – Seven people died in an earthquake that struck Indonesia’s Papua province early today, the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency said. The powerful earthquake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale and a radio station reported damage in one Northwestern town. The agency said the quake struck at 06.05 hours. The quake, centred about 7 km from Nabire town in Papua’s Northwest, damaged buildings including the local hospital. “Nabire Hospital was heavily damaged, with the result that patients must be put in an emergency tent,” the statement said. The quake also felled trees and damaged several houses and at least one bridge, the agency said. Walls and roads cracked in the quake which was also felt in Manokwari, more than 120 km Northwest of Nabire, it said. Officials in the town could not be reached by telephone.

6 February 2004 – A magnitude 6.9 earthquake hit Indonesia’s Eastern-most Papua Province on the Western side of New Guinea Island early today, killing at least 22 people, injuring dozens more and damaging hundreds of homes, local police and government officials said.

7 February 2004 – Rescuers struggled to get relief supplies and search crews to an Indonesian town devastated by an earthquake, but aftershocks and damage to the local airstrip, which could only be used for light, single-engined aircraft, hampered efforts to evacuate the victims and fly in supplies and emergency equipment today. The death toll rose to 34, with hundreds injured. A powerful aftershock, measured at magnitude 7.1 by the US Geological Survey, struck the area shortly before noon today, and occurred 48 km West of the one recorded yesterday. Two pipelines at a petrochemical storage depot were said to be ruptured in yesterday’s quake, but no leaks were reported. Papua governor Jacob Solossa was scheduled to inspect the area late on Saturday. The quake levelled up to 500 houses, mostly built from wood, bamboo and thatch, in Nabire and the nearby towns of Enarotali and Manokwari.

8 February 2004 – Strong aftershocks jolted Indonesia’s West Papua today as workers searched for more bodies from a weekend of powerful earthquakes that crushed homes, tore huge cracks in roads and killed at least 30 people. Survivors were awakened in their makeshift tents at 06.27 today by a 5.3-magnitude quake, the Meteorological and Geophysics Agency said. The death toll from two powerful earthquakes that struck the region on Friday (February 6) and Saturday “was in the thirties”, senior welfare minister, Jusuf Kalla, was quoted as saying by privately owned El-Shinta radio in Jakarta. A local hospital spokeswoman put the death toll at 34. Most people died under collapsed buildings in Nabire, which has a population of 26,000, Kalla said. Jakarta officials said yesterday they did not expect the death toll to go much higher. Houses in the more remote part of the mountainous region were mostly built from wood, bamboo and thatch, and it was unlikely that victims were trapped under debris.

10 February 2004 – Residents in the quake-hit Indonesian district of Nabire reported several minor aftershocks today and people remained camped outside their homes in fear of further tremors. About 30 people were killed in earthquakes that hit Nabire on Friday (February 6) and Saturday after the first quake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale on Friday was followed by a series of aftershocks. “Today there were three or four minor aftershocks. People are still afraid to return to their homes,” said Tornado Edmawan, a district judge who along with other residents had moved to a tent outside his house. Electricity was back in his neighbourhood yesterday, bringing slight relief to residents, he said. Police said the death toll from the quakes in Indonesia’s Eastern-most province stood at 28 as of yesterday. The provincial military spokesman had said on Sunday that 31 had died, including six from the most powerful aftershock on Saturday. A reporter with the Jakarta-based Radio Elshinta in Nabire, quoting the head of the local hospital, also put the death toll at 31. Mr Edmawan said that despite reports of aid coming to the town, residents in his neighbourhood had not received any. Rescuers said they were seeking access to isolated villages in Nabire, fearing there may be more casualties there.

12 February 2004 – The death toll from last week’s earthquake in the Indonesian province of Papua has risen to 37, as a series of fresh tremors rocked the area. An official at the Nabire quake centre in Papua, 3,000 km East of the capital, Jakarta, says with some damage in remote outlying areas, reports of casualties are slowly trickling in. The epicentre of last Friday’s (February 6) earthquake was just a few kilometres from Nabire, a regional centre of 26,000 people, and most deaths and injuries were caused by falling buildings. Residents have been urged to stay in tents outside their houses because aftershocks are likely to be felt for another week.

15 February 2004 – PakistanAt least 17 people were killed and others injured yesterday when two earthquakes struck remote mountain districts of Northern Pakistan. The first tremor, measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale, struck at 05.30 EST, followed by an aftershock of 5.5 magnitude at 07.58 EST, officials said. Both were felt in the capital Islamabad. State-run Pakistan Television said 20 people had been killed but gave no breakdown of these figures. Police said 13 people died in the Battagram district, about 100 miles Northwest of Islamabad, when their minibus was struck by falling rocks and plunged into a ravine. “We have recovered 13 bodies so far,” local police officer Adam Khan said, adding that the toll could rise. In Balakhot, in the adjoining district of Mansehra, four people were killed and 11 hurt when the tremors damaged about 200 houses. “Most of these houses were made of mud and many have been destroyed,” said the local deputy superintendent of police, Iqbal Hussein. An official at Pakistan’s Meteorological Department said the epicentre of the tremors was near the Kaghan valley, some 125 miles Northeast of the city of Peshawar, and added: “We don’t expect more aftershocks.” India’s Meteorological Department reported a tremor measuring 5.0 on the Richter scale in Northern India but said it had no reports of damage or casualties.

15 February 2004 – At least 22 were killed and dozens wounded when two earthquakes of moderate intensity hit the Pakistani cities of Islamabad and Peshawar and Northern areas yesterday afternoon. The first quake measured 5.7 on the Richter scale. There was no information available about intensity of the second, which followed 90 minutes later. The earthquake originated at 15.30 local time. The epicentre of both quakes was a mountainous area about 200 km Northeast of Peshawar, capital of the North West Frontier Province, state PTV reported.

16 February 2004 – Rescue workers were today struggling to reach remote Northern areas of Pakistan where the death toll from this weekend’s (Febraury 14-15) twin earthquakes rose to 24 people, an official said. The magnitude 5.7 and 5.5 temblors shook the rugged Hindu Kush mountain range on Saturday about 90 minutes apart, triggering landslides, demolishing hundreds of homes and injuring dozens. Officials were still trying to assess the extent of damage. Twenty-four people have died so far from the quakes, said Abdul Hafiz, a Government official in Peshawar, capital of Pakistan’s North West Frontier Province where the country’s earthquake monitoring centre is located. Hafiz said rescue teams were having difficulties reaching quake-hit areas because of bad weather, landslides and heavy snowfall, which had blocked roads. The earthquakes were centred 125 miles Northeast of Peshawar in the Hindu Kush, a region often hit by mild and moderate quakes.

24 February 2004 – MoroccoA powerful earthquake shook Northern Morocco early today, killing at least 20 people and injuring some 40 others, the official news agency reported. The victims of the temblor, which struck at about 02.30 local time, were in rural villages near the coastal city of Al-Hoceima, the MAP agency reported, citing unidentified local officials. Rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help survivors and search for victims who may have become trapped under rubble. According to the US Geological Survey, the 6.5-magnitude quake was centred 100 miles Northeast of Fes, under the Mediterranean.

24 February 2004 – A powerful earthquake shook Northern Morocco early today, toppling houses and killing at least 86 people, medical officials said. They added that the toll could rise to at least 200. The 6.5-magnitude quake rocked rural areas near the coastal city of Al-Hoceima, officials said, and there were worries about the fate of three villages – Ait Kamra, Tamassint and Imzourn – where 30,000 people live in mud structures unable to withstand a major natural disaster. Military and civilian rescuers were dispatched to the scene to help survivors and search for victims trapped under rubble. Helicopters filled with emergency supplies were being prepared for take-off. Rescuers reported difficulties in reaching the affected area, however, because it is surrounded by mountains and served by narrow, poor roads. The death toll was expected to rise throughout the day, the Interior Ministry said. A physician at the Mohammed V hospital in Al-Hoceima told French television station LCI that there were “many deaths and many injured”. “Most of the injured have broken bones,” he said. “Houses collapsed. It was a very, very violent jolt.” Another physician at the hospital said that hundreds of people were injured and that he expected the death toll to go to at least 200. According to the US Geological Survey, the 6.5-magnitude quake was centred 100 miles Northeast of Fes in the Mediterranean Sea. It occurred about one mile underground at 02.27 local time. USGS spokesman Butch Kinerney said the earthquake’s strength and depth could lead to damage along the coasts. He said the quake would probably have been felt up to 200 miles away in Algeria.

25 February 2004 – The death toll from a powerful earthquake in Northern Morocco rose to at least 564, but rescuers kept up a frantic search today for survivors under the rubble of devastated mud-brick homes. Hundreds of other people were reported injured in and around the Mediterranean port city of Al-Hoceima when the quake, measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale, struck early yesterday as many people were sleeping in their houses. “The death toll has risen to 564,” Health Minister Mohamed Cheikh Biadillah told state television 2M. Dozens of aftershocks and rain made relief efforts even more difficult in outlying villages in the foothills of the Rif mountains. Many people spent the night in the open or under sheeting and other makeshift shelters because their homes were destroyed. Some said they just felt safer away from buildings. Villagers, some digging with their bare hands or shovels to search for survivors, said heavy equipment and sniffer dogs were needed. In Al-Hoceima, a fishing port and beach resort of about 70,000 inhabitants, damage was limited but authorities struggled to deal with the dead, injured and homeless from nearby areas. Many of the injured were being treated in army barracks, health centres and charity homes. Others were airlifted to the capital, Rabat, Casablanca and Meknes. Josephine Shields, an official with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Tunis, said six villages within 10 miles of Al-Hoceima had been hit by yesterday’s quake. “We’ve been told that the entire affected area has between 300,000 and 400,000 people. It is a remote area, very mountainous, so it is a bit difficult to access.”

25 February 2004 – Aid and development groups today pointed an accusing finger at construction firms over the high death toll in the earthquake that rocked Northeast Morocco, saying they ignored the building code for the quake-prone region. At least 560 people died and hundreds more were injured in the 6.3 magnitude quake which struck in the early hours of yesterday, reducing entire towns and villages near the Mediterranean port city of Al-Hoceima to rubble. “The old rural clay houses can’t stand up to such a shock, but neither can many recent buildings, because they do not meet construction standards,” said Omar Moussa Abdellah, a member of a regional economic development organisation. He accused the authorities and construction firms of ignoring the lessons they should have learned from the last major tremor in the region on 26 May 1994. That quake was of much weaker intensity than yesterday’s and claimed only six lives, but it caused the scientific community to urge the authorities to update construction norms to take into account the level of seismic activity in the region. Medical doctor Mohammed el-Allam, who was working on the civil security rescue effort after the quake, also blamed “poor construction quality” for causing the collapse of many buildings in the tremor. “Some buildings are still standing but they have such big cracks that they are no longer habitable,” he told AFP. A law enacted after the 1994 quake in the region outlined standards that construction firms were supposed to abide by, but the law is widely flouted, according to el-Allam. “The buildings that are still standing despite the strong tremor were the only ones constructed in line with the [1994] standards,” he said. L’Economiste newspaper, which has close links with Morocco’s business community, blamed the Northeastern region’s “seismic vulnerability on the manifest lack of restraint and the ease” with which some construction firms are given authorisation for building projects. “Independent house-building still flourishes and, even in state-authorised construction projects, companies that use undeclared labour are still used, on the grounds that their prices are better – which is doubtless because they don’t pay social taxes,” said the paper. L’Economiste also decried the fact that the 1994 law provided no formal punishment for those who flouted the earthquake-zone building code. The main town in the region, Al-Hoceima, was practically untouched by the quake, while the heavily populated towns of Imzouren and Ait-Kamra, and villages to the South, where houses are built mainly in the traditional manner of mud brick, were reduced to rubble and up to three-quarters of the population killed.

25 February 2004 – Angry homeless survivors from an earthquake that killed nearly 600 people in northern Morocco blocked a main road today in protest at the lack of government aid to rebuild their shattered lives. As hopes dimmed of finding any more people alive in the rubble of mud-brick homes in villages around Al-Hoceima, dozens of demonstrators staged a sit-down protest on the road linking the Mediterranean port city to the interior, interrupting all traffic. “We spent the night under the rain, in the cold. We want this to stop,” said Ahmed Mnabhi, 26 and unemployed. “We want building material, bricks, cement, iron to rebuild our homes.” The death toll from Morocco’s worst natural disaster in more than 40 years rose to at least 565 when aftershocks sent two buildings in the nearby village of Im-Zouren crashing. Officials said the death toll would likely rise as search-and-rescue teams reached hamlets far up the Rif mountains. Forecasters said plummeting temperatures and rain over the next few days would only hamper the rescue effort.

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