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Sichuan still experiences mudslides and other secondary hazards from the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake with torrential rainfall during the monsoon season contributing to the ongoing problem.  More efforts are needed to help people living in the Sichuan Province of China as it is in the midst of undergoing reconstruction since the 8.0 mag earthquake hit Wenchuan leaving 80,000 people dead or missing.  A mining site that has opened in the epicentre of the earthquake has caused concern amongst some researchers in China who think that mining in the area could likely worsen the situation.  Other than affecting local geology the mining and factory industries in the area could also increase pollution as businesses attempt to recover from the earthquake.

According to Yang Yung, a geologist who has undergone a series of independent investigations on the effects of the Wenchuan earthquake: ‘There is virtually no public participation in China’s environmental assessments.  We urgently need more public participation and awareness of public participation. Environmental assessments ignore a whole range of interests, and there aren’t any mechanisms powerful enough to force the relevant companies to take responsibility’. Read more

Preparedness is high on the list of any earthquake hazard mitigation strategy.  But in areas of developing countries with little to no expertise or infrastructure to deal with the secondary hazards of earthquakes like landslides or the earthquakes themselves — how do you prepare?  In Haiti, researchers have been working with people to help improve their resilience to earthquakes, such as developing hazard maps to identify the movement of faults in order to make local buildings, for example, resilient to future impacts.  An article in Nature, quoting Eric Calais, a geophysicist at Purdue University, describes the need for tapping into ‘local talent’ in order to equip Haiti with the expertise it needs to understand seismic data:

Having local talent is important, says Calais, because any of the resources installed in Haiti won’t be sustainable without researchers in the area “keeping the network alive”. Local seismologists can also help to ensure that good building codes are created and maintained, and can campaign for earthquake awareness in government, he says. Calais is hoping to start a seismological research lab to make it worthwhile for Haitian students to return to the country, although for now there are no concrete plans.

“It’s going to be a long-term project: we’re talking at least 5 years of work before resilience has improved significantly,” he says.

‘Haiti to improve quake preparedness.’ Nature. doi:10.1038/news.2010.670 Read more

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From the ‘When the Shaking Stops’ workshop, Prof Li Jing of Beijing Normal University and National Disaster Committee, gives his presentation on disaster response in China.  He also focuses on reconstruction efforts after the Wenchuan earthquake.

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This presentation was given by Prof Durgesh Rai from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur at the ‘When the Shaking Stops‘ workshop on secondary hazards in Durham University.   The workshop brought together researchers from China, Iran, India and the UK to share experiences and best practice in assessing, and dealing with, both the primary and secondary effects of large earthquakes.  Prof Durgesh Rai’s presentation focuses on the impacts of secondary hazards on infrastructure.  He reviews damage caused by earthquakes in India since the late 1800s and addresses the need for developing earthquake-resistant buildings in India, especially the use of high quality building materials.

This is one of a series of screencasts from the workshop, more will be available soon.

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