Let’s prepare for earthquakes!

Yesterday, some parts of Accra, par­ticularly the western part, including Weija and Gbawe, experienced three tremors, the foreshock at 11:49 a.m. with a magni­tude of 2.1, the second at 11:53 a.m. measuring 3.5 and the third at 11:58 a.m. at 1.8 on the Richter scale.

According to some eye­witness information, the tectonic incidents were also experienced in the Central Business District (CBD) of Accra, especially around the Bank of Ghana area, where some people attempted to move away from buildings to safety.

It is said that the stron­gest of the tremors reached a magnitude of 4.0 on the Richter scale, which is nor­mally moderate yet one of the strongest earthquakes in Ghana’s history.

A moderate earthquake is said to register up to 5.9 magnitude and causes slight damage to build­ings and other struc­tures.

In the world’s seismi­cally most active zones of the Circum-Pacific belt, the Alpide belt, the mid-Atlantic Ridge magnitudes sometimes go from 6 to as much as 9.5 and cause unimag­inable fatalities.

For instance, in the Alpine belt, Sumatra (in Indonesia) recorded an earthquake of 9.1 mag­nitude in 2004, which generated a tsunami that killed over 230,000 people, and in the same region, Pakistan in 2005 recorded 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which killed over 80,000 people.

Earthquakes in Ghana started to be recorded in 1636 and have contin­ued to occur at certain intervals ever since, with the three major ones so far having occurred in 1862, 1906 and 1939.

The 1862 one, of magnitude of 6.3, hit the coastal part of the country and recorded three deaths; the 1906, occurring in Ho and said to have been felt in Togo and Benin, was 6.2 and caused much damage but no fatality; and the June 22, 1939 occurred in Accra and killed at least 17.

It must be noted that earthquakes cannot be prevented and can strike anywhere at any time, yet it has been histor­ically observed that they occur in the same general patterns.

It means they would experience both weak and strong incidents and so some measures can be taken.

Japan, one the most earth­quake-prone countries in the world, for instance, has developed its seismic net­work to the point that it can recognise all earthquakes.

With this information, Japan has constructed earth­quake-proof buildings that have helped it cope with nu­merous powerful quakes that would have been extremely disastrous in less-prepared earthquake-prone countries like Indonesia, which are less-prepared.

How well is Ghana pre­pared for a major earth­quake?

We know some mess has already been caused in the country’s housing system — can that be corrected?

Fortunately, Japan is avail­able and can help safeguard life in earthquake-prone parts of the country.

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