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Buildings in Indonesia earthquake zone 'substandard' says expert

THE EARTHQUAKE that hit Indonesia last week should serve as a wake up call to the regions government to improve and enforce building standards experts have warned.
A lack of building standards allows the public to build freely without any consideration to structural performance in a disaster, said Arup associate and chair of the society for civil engineering earthquake design, Ziggy Lubowski.The earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shook Yogyakarta, a large town on the island of Java, at 10.54pm GMT last Friday killing over 5,000 people, injuring over 20,000 and displacing some 200,000.Lubowski recently completed a study into the rebuild of Banda Aceh, an area devastated by the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami.He commented on the similar design and construction of the buildings in the two areas which are some 2000km apart.'Java has a similar building stock to Banda Aceh and much of Indonesia: a mixture of timber houses, masonry houses and reinforced concrete with masonry infill.' He added, 'The seismic building code - last published in 2003 - excluded residential dwellings purely to allow people to build their own houses but means a lot of the contracting work is very substandard.' Engineering disaster relief charity RedR chief executive Bobby Lambert said the emphasis in Java now will be on shelter, water and sanitation.RedR is keeping people on standby but has not yet been called upon to help. Charities say that the region is well equipped to deal with a disaster on this level.It is meanwhile continuing its work in Pakistan and Banda Aceh. Jon YoungRelated links:Today's top stories

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