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Flood threat to dams in Gujarat

EARTHQUAKE RAVAGED Gujarat faces monsoon flooding this summer unless emergency repairs are made to dams cracked by the recent quake, leading UK earthquake specialists said this week.

Nine earth dams in the region could be breached when the monsoon rain arrives in July, said Dr Gopal Madabushi of the Institution of Structural Engineers' Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT).

A powerful quake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale, followed by another measuring 7.9, struck the Gujarat region in January causing widespread damage (NCE 15 February).

Severe cracks have developed in the clay core and the rip-rap outer shell of stones and boulders has subsided badly at the Rudra Matha, Tappa, Fatehgadh and Kafawathi dams inspected by the recent EEFIT mission to Gujarat.

'Damage to the earth dams has been immense and urgent repairs are needed to them before the onset of monsoon rains, ' said Madabushi.

He told an ICE meeting last week that the EEFIT mission also discovered that soil liquifaction was widespread in inland Gujurat despite the low water table.

'The landscape is dotted with sand boils up to 6m in diameter, ' said Madabushi. 'It usually happens in little pockets but it was quite widespread. The earthquake forces were strong enough to bring water to the surface from a long way down.

This is unique.'

In coastal areas liquifaction had caused massive damage to four bridges, two railway lines, two highways and two ports.

Production had also stopped at the big Sikka cement works near Jamnagar where a 70m high cement silo collapsed.

Damian Arnold Find out more on EEFIT at www. cen. bris. ac. uk

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