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DIY home repair guide gives hope to Gujarat quake victims

THREE BRITISH based engineers from the Gujarat region of India have produced a do-ityourself repair guide for thousands of homeowners whose dwellings were damaged in last January's earthquake.

Twenty thousand people died and 167,000 were injured after the quake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter Scale, ripped through the Gujarati district of Kutch on January 26.

Many of the damaged houses have still to be repaired because owners lack the resources and repair knowledge.

Engineers Dinesh Patel, Khimji Pindoria and Devraj Patel were appalled at the scale of damage in an area where earthquake design codes were often ignored by builders (NCE 1 March). They also realised that owners of damaged homes would get little help with repairs.

Repairing buildings is seen as the responsibility of the owners, many of whom have no access to structural engineers.

After six months' work the guide is ready for distribution.

'Local engineers do not have the knowledge, ' says the guide.

'Repair and strengthening of domestic low rise buildings is not being carried out properly.'

Severely weakened buildings that were not earthquake designed in the first place are extremely vulnerable to another incident, it adds.

Repairs in the guide include fitting a galvanised steel mesh on either side of a wall tied together by steel rods. Reinforced concrete ties between corners at walls and the base of structures are also recommended.

The guide has been translated into Gujarati and the three engineers plan to travel to Gujarat to set up workshops on how to use it.

INFOPLUS The guide can be accessed on www. arup. com/geotechnics

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