An earthquake measuring 6.9 on the Richter scale has hit Central Philippines, leaving almost 88 people dead or missing. Local government officials have claimed that at least 15 people have been killed, due to this latest attack that occurred at noon between the Negros and Cebu islands.
Describing the wide-spread panic that ensued as the earthquake hit the region, Mark Garcia, the director of information and publications at Siliman University explains, “A few minutes before wrapping up a regular meeting, we felt a strong tremor lasting for about 16 to 30 seconds and we hid under a table. People in the coastal areas are panicking, and we are still nervous of the tsunami warning even though it was canceled.”
The earthquake managed to bury at least 30 houses while also causing damage to eight bridges, which has resulted in the complication of rescue efforts as well as bringing the agriculture-based economy in the region to a grinding halt. People living in Cebu City also responded to the earthquake in a state of panic.
The archipelago of Philippines lies within the Pacific Ocean’s “Ring of Fire” region, one that is known for repeated earthquakes and volcanoes. While the country tries to beef up its disaster-response capabilities, these efforts are often inhibited by regular disasters and the fact that most of its population (almost 100 million) lives in sub-standard homes.
In addition, the country of Philippines also has to contend with around 20 typhoons a year, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
A 6.7 earthquake hit a city known as Kaa-Khem in southwestern Siberia, and has damaged several buildings. However, there were no reports of any injuries or deaths since the area was sparsely populated.
The Russian Minister for Emergency Situations, Sergey Shoygu stated that “Tuva was very lucky that there was no casualties and serious damage.”
The epicenter of the earthquake was about 10 kilometers underground and was 60 miles east of Kyzyl, the capital of republic Tuva that borders Mongolia. The local seismologist does not believe that this is the last one but speculates that these earthquakes will continue in the years to come, and which might be stronger in nature.
According to the official report, 31 multistory apartments, a plant which provided hot water and heat as well as a school suffered damage to a certain extent but were operational.
Tremors were also felt after the earthquake not only in Tuva but in other parts of Siberia as well leading to the high alert that local seismic and security services have been put on to handle an imminent disaster in the near future.
The coal-mining region of Kemerovo was also evacuated just as a precautionary measure after the earthquake on Tuesday. According to latest reports, 3500 people were given temporary shelter, according to the Emergencies Ministry, and the issue was under control.
With reports of seismic activity in the near future and since this earthquake was close to the capital of Tuva, the authorities are stepping up measures to prevent casualties in any other city which is densely populated.
In the aftermath of the earthquake in Eastern Turkey that measured 5.6 on the Richter scale, officials have announced that 38 have died while 26 people have been rescued. However, this only adds to the gloom that surrounds the fate of survivors in the Van region.
According to Cezmi Fazla, a survivor, “It’s not possible for us to survive the winter here. The Van winter is very cold and there’s a lot of snow. Living in these shelters is impossible. We haven’t gotten any aid.”
To add to the mayhem, most Kurdish residents that are in a bad situation blame the government for only helping their political supporters while also pointing out that the people of Turkey have been the reason why they have been able to live through another devastating earthquake.
The 7.2 earthquake which hit Van in the previous month claimed its latest victims as two journalists that traveled to cover that incident perished in their rooms at the Bayram Hotel during this one. A Japanese volunteer who was helping in rescue efforts in Van due to the previous earthquake also suffered the same fate.
Their conditions have worsened due to the continuous rain, snow and cold which their outdoor tents and makeshift shelters (some made of plywood and Styrofoam) can hardly withstand, leading to a riot which demanded the resignation of the Van governor.
Most residents believe that the government has downplayed the magnitude of the earthquake which has been measured at 5.6 units, and has hit the region that was devastated by a much-larger earthquake where 604 people died.
A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale has hit the Van region of Turkey, killing almost 200 people while leaving 1000 people injured. Officials believe that the death is expected to rise, with the town of Ercis being hit the hardest.
Mustafa Erdik, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Earthquake Engineering, suggests how serious this earthquake is, in saying, “We estimate around 1,000 buildings are damaged and our estimate is for hundreds of lives lost – it could be 500 or 1,000.”
According to the US Geological Survey, the earthquake hit the Van region at 10:41 GMT, and was followed by two powerful aftershocks measuring 5.6 and 6.0, with the area around north Van being affected the most.
The Prime Minister has visited the earthquake-stricken areas and said that the villages close to Van were the hardest hit as these houses were made of clay that were not according to building regulations. Turkey continues to be vulnerable to these earthquakes because it is located at one of the major geological fault lines.
Even though the Prime Minister has stated that Turkey will be able to handle the rescue efforts by themselves, officials in towns are requesting for urgent assistance as people are trapped within the buildings that have fallen.
What makes this difficult for rescue workers to help is the fact that they cannot arrange for heavy machinery to extricate these people who are buried under the rubble. Most residents who were not affected by the earthquake are spending their nights outside their home for the fear of aftershocks.
Japan experienced yet another earthquake which measured 7.4 on the Richter scale hitting the sea near Miyagi Prefecture in Northeastern Japan. Although, authorities had issued a tsunami warning but it was lifted immediately once the earthquake had made its presence felt.
While this tremor caused blackouts in the affected areas, the authorities were careful to shut down the nuclear reactors this time around in order to circumvent the disaster of Fukushima from occurring again.
Authorities have also identified the epicenter of the earthquake to be 40 km under the sea just off the coast of the Miyagi Prefecture, and as an aftershock after the earthquake that threw the nation into turmoil on March 11, 2011.
And while the tremors caused the motorways to be closed, officials were not willing to take any chances this time since the areas of Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki and Iwate were alerted immediately along with the immediate shutdown of the Higashidori, Daini, Onagawa nuclear plant and Fukushima plants just before the earthquake knocked the lights out, literally speaking.
While no one was reported to be hurt from this aftershock, the authorities were confident that the nuclear plants in the North Eastern part of the country were not damaged while also clarifying that there were no abnormal radiation levels around the Onagawa nuclear plant which was only being cooled with one outside power source.
Yet the condition of the Fukushima nuclear reactor is stable due to the fact that engineers have been able to seal a leak of radioactive water into the sea, and will complete working on the other two reactors as soon as possible.
There is no doubt that the Great East Japan earthquake has not only captured the attention of millions of people around the world but has also resulted in contributions in terms of money and manpower to help in the rescue efforts.
While it is unquestionable that the earthquake has almost brought the nation to its knees, the subsequent successful rescue effort has moved on to the next stage of rebuilding the nation. This is what the Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, told his fellow citizens almost three weeks after the disaster struck Japan in the most catastrophic manner possible.
The grim reality of almost 16000 people who continue to be missing has hit home. Japanese and United States military troops have joined hands in conducting a three-day search to find those who are missing by using airplanes, ships, and divers to comb the ocean for any possible survivors.
At another level altogether, the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant has caused ripples around the world. Firefighters and engineers are braving dangerous conditions in order to stabilize the plant as radioactive water continues to leak from one of its reactors.
The Japanese Prime Minister is confident despite the fact that some Japanese live and the fiscal health of the country is at stake. The Parliament has already put together a supplementary budget towards long-term reconstruction. And in the hope that despite the odds, Japan is assured of a brighter and stronger future ahead of them.
It’s only been about three days since New Zealand has been first-hand witness to one of the harshest earthquakes it has seen for a long time at Christchurch, yet there’s no letting up as a series of aftershocks that have measured almost 4.5 in magnitude continue to keep the city in shock, and efforts to rescue the missing has seemingly hit a dead-end.
According to most people who have stayed back to help or wish to prevent looters from taking away their valuables, the memories of the terror of the earthquake that occurred on Tuesday are brought back every time one of these little tremors hit the city.
And it’s not just residents of the city that are horrified by this life-changing event but people who have come from abroad to assist in the rescue efforts, and in understanding the extent to which the earthquake has caused damage to the heart of Christchurch where several landmarks and building lay in waste, the Prime Minister John Key has clearly told the nation to brace itself for tough news as the days pass.
As rescue efforts spend their third night looking for survivors, they seem to be optimistic enough to find many more that are buried beneath the rubble as there are a few days before time runs out. Yet with these tremors that continue to rock the city, rescue efforts become harder to carry out along with the realization that Christchurch will never be the same again.
A failed Tsunami warning system is being blamed for the hundreds of lives that were lost in Monday’s tragedy. A wall of water reported to be at least three meters high slammed into parts of Indonesia killing several hundred people. The tsunami was triggered by a 7.8-magnitute earthquake.
A tsunami warning system was put in place after the catastrophic 2004 tsunami at a cost of several million dollars. Unfortunately, the system broke down about a month ago due to poor maintenance. It is doubtful, however, if the early warning system could have done anything to help even if it was working. The worst damage occurred close to the epicenter, which meant that people would have had very little chance to respond or get to safety in those areas.
The Mentawai islands were hardest hit and it is here that the most number of deaths are being reported. Rescuers fear that the death toll could mount further as they keep discovering bloated corpses on beaches. They also fear that many bodies could have been swept out sea.
Currently the death toll has gone past 300, but rescue efforts are going on at a feverish pitch to help the survivors. Many countries have come forth with aid and this is a welcome relief for the disaster prone nation. Making the situation worse for Indonesia is the untimely eruption of Mount Merapi, one of the country’s most volatile volcanoes. Already, 28 people have died due to the eruption and almost one hundred people have been injured by ash and hot rocks. Over 10,000 people have evacuated from their homes and taken to emergency shelters.