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Quake prompts call for safer building

DEVELOPING COUNTRIES must educate their people in safer construction methods if they are to avoid a repeat of the devastation caused by last weekend's south Asia earthquake, engineers said this week.

They fear many buildings will be reconstructed with no account taken of future risks.

An earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter scale struck near Muzaffarabad in the Pakistan controlled region of Kashmir at 8.50am on Saturday morning.

Over 40,000 people were estimated to have been killed as NCE went to press.

Educating villagers and oliticians as to how to make buildings more resistant is key, ' said Society for Earthquake Civil Engineering Dynamics chairman Ziggy Lubkowski.

Primitive construction techniques used in rural communities contributed to the high death toll, said ICE Pakistan representative Sarfraz Ahmed.

'Houses are built of random stone masonry bound with cement or mud with roofs simply sat on top. When the earthquake shook the ground, the roof just fell in on top of the families inside, ' he said.

Engineers expressed frustration that lessons had not been learned from similar events.

'The situation here is depressingly familiar to the situations that we saw in (previous earthquakes in) Turkey and India.

'Once people get over the shock of the event, the danger is that unless more information is made available, they will just rebuild their houses as they did before, ' said Jacobs Babtie director Alan Stewart.

Stewart is past chairman of the IStructE's Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team (EEFIT).

Following the 2001 Gujurat earthquake in India, Arup engineer Dinesh Patel produced a guide for the construction of one and two storey structures which was used in reconstruction efforts (NCE 24 January 2002).

'Using cut stone rather than rubble makes structures more resistant to shaking and installing concrete lintels above and below openings such as windows will bind the frames and reduce cracking, ' he said.

INFOPLUS Find Dinesh Patel's guide on www. nceplus. co. uk

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