Bangladesh ill-prepared for disasters, warn experts

September 14th, 2010 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 14 (IANS) Bangladesh is ill-prepared for disasters, experts warned four days after an earthquake hit the country.
Two earthquakes hit the country last Friday as people prepared to end the holy Ramadan and celebrate Eid-ul-Fitr.

Most buildings essential for providing earthquake victims with support, shelter and treatment are themselves vulnerable even to moderate tremors, indicating the authorities will be in real trouble after a disaster, The Daily Star said Tuesday.

The government has so far failed to take initiative to retro-fit vulnerable buildings like hospitals, schools and fire stations which would be used for victims’ treatment, shelter and rescue operations after an earthquake, it said.

The authorities will not be able to provide people with treatment if hospitals are damaged in the event of an earthquake. Also damaged schools and colleges, which are used as shelters during disasters, will not be able to accommodate victims, said A.S.M. Maksud Kamal, urban risk reduction specialist of Comprehensive Disaster Management Programme (CDMP) of the UNDP.

Risk analysis of hospitals should be conducted and steps should be taken, he said.

Quoting a study conducted by the CDMP in 2009, Maksud said an earthquake of 7.5 magnitude in Dhaka city will moderately damage around 241 hospitals and clinics. At the same time 10 hospitals will be destroyed.

About 90 schools will be destroyed while 30 police stations and four fire stations will be moderately damaged, he said.

Mehdi Ahmed Ansary of Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology said fire fighters which are the first to respond to such disasters were also at a risk as their stations, officers’ quarters and barracks were susceptible to earthquakes that measured over seven on the Richter scale.

There are 194 fire stations in Bangladesh and 119 of them, constructed before 1971, are considered more vulnerable, said Ansary.

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