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Time now for contingency plans in natural disasters

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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 15: Kuwaiti geologists and seismologists have called for taking urgent steps to protect lives of people and avoiding accidents resulting from earthquakes in the neighboring countries in the future, stressing that it is time to approve an “earthquake code” in Kuwait, in the wake of devastating earthquakes which recently struck Syria and Turkey, leaving thousands dead and injured, reports Al-Qabas daily. This came during a panel discussion organized by the Sabah Al-Ahmad Center for Environmental Training at the Kuwaiti Society for Environmental Protection, which was held in cooperation with the Kuwaiti Society for Earth Sciences.

During the discussion it was disclosed that Kuwait is far from earthquake centers by at least 300 km2, and that the damage of earthquakes that occur in the surrounding areas is limited. The panelists stressed the need to expedite the allocation of a “building code” for earthquakes, especially for tall buildings, and to follow up the implementation of buildings and contracting works, in line with the relevant and followed code by the Kuwait Municipality.

They pointed out the need for owners of high-rise residential buildings to place sensors below, in the middle and at the top of the buildings to alert residents or employees in case of emergencies in the form of vibrations and give certain signals in addition to the importance of developing quick and urgent evacuation plans for buildings to avoid casualties. Associate Professor of Geology at the Applied School, who specializes in optics and geochemistry of sedimentary rocks and the environment, Dr. Ilham Al-Langawi said “Kuwait was affected in November 2017 by an earthquake that struck Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Iran at a magnitude of 7.2 on the Richter scale, and Kuwait could be affected by the movement of the plate of the Arabian Peninsula towards the northeast, which may lead to pressure on the plates approaching it.”

In turn, the supervisor of the Kuwaiti National Seismological Network, Dr. Abdullah Al-Enezi, said “there are two sources of earthquakes affecting Kuwait, one of which is a group of earthquakes in the areas of Al-Manaqeesh and Umm Qadeer in the south, and Al-Rawdatain and Al-Sabriya in the north, and another from the Zagros Mountains as a result of tectonic activities.” Al-Enezi added that the researchers believe that the impact of earthquakes on Kuwait is very simple, and the feeling of them is limited to the coastal areas for two reasons, the first: the height of the buildings in these areas, and the second the nature of the coastal clay soil in the country, which helps to aggravate the sense of earthquakes, indicating that the largest earthquakes that occur struck the Burqan area with a magnitude of 5 on the Richter scale.

It did not have a devastating effect, but it was very limited in the Sabah Al-Ahmad area. For his part, Assistant Professor of Geology at Kuwait University Muhammad Naqi pointed out that “the Anatolian plate from the north is bordered by a very large rift with a distance of 1,500 km, extending from eastern Turkey to the Aegean Sea, and it is a rift that moves parallel to each other, similar to the California rift (San Andres). “Based on this theory, scientists expect the earthquake to come from the east direction towards the Sea of Marmara, south of Istanbul, which is home to about 15 million people,” Naqi explained.

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