July 17, 2007

Yet another earthquake

This area was briefly sunny and hot yesterday after one week of continuous rain and a typhoon Saturday night. The rain seems to continue for another week too. It is cold and doesn’t look like summer.

Earthquake in Nigata area was the breaking news when I switched on the television yesterday morning after many days. The magnitude of this earthquake was 6 in Japanese seismic scale (which tops out at 7 and is different from the Richter scale, the more common scale outside Japan). There is news of 7 deaths and destruction hundreds of homes till now. This area had earthquake (Joetsu earthquake)of the same strength around 2 years ago too (October 2004). Around 40 people had died and thousands of homes destroyed.

Japan has really harsh natural conditions. It has to cope with earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons--- throughout the year. But despite all the natural calamities, they have built a wonderful nation. I really admire their dedication and hard work.

I had experienced some earthquakes before coming to Japan. Most of them were very small. I don’t know the magnitude but the one in 1988 (2045 B.S.) was somewhat bigger. Hundreds of people had died in Eastern Nepal and thousands of houses were destroyed. The destruction was large mainly due to our poor infrastructure and lack of adequate emergency preparedness on the state’s side. I think earthquakes similar to that are not considered earthquake at all here. They have very good construction guidelines and their emergency preparedness may be the best in the world. They also have public awareness campaigns in all the cities and towns throughout the year.

Scientists have predicted major earthquakes in Nepal and Himalayan area in the near future. But the preparation for such calamity is still nil. There are very few public awareness campaigns and most of them are by private organizations. Government hasn’t initiated anything. This is scary. Looking at the poor level of our infrastructures and haphazard constructions, even a small earthquake can cause very big damage.

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