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Poor engineering 'cost lives in 2004 tsunami'

Poorly engineered buildings led to the needless loss of lives and livelihoods in the 2004 Boxing Day tsunami, a structural engineering expert told the ICE 'Safety, security and sustainability' conference in London last month.

Ottowa University's structural engineering professor Murat Saatcioglu visited Banda Aceh in Indonesia shortly after the tsunami hit and saw that many of the destroyed buildings lacked basic shear reinforcement in columns and beams.

He said that not all buildings needed to be earthquakeengineered to withstand earthquakes and that just extra reinforcement, predominantly preventing shear failure, would have provided the necessary robustness to prevent collapse.

Other vulnerable structures which needed re-engineering included coastal structures, said Saatcioglu. He argued that they should be designed to withstand impact loads from flying debris in tsunamis as well as wind and wave loads.

Arup associate director Jo Da Silva, said that that she had witnessed poor standards of engineering in rebuilt structures.

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