ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Weak at the Base

More than 15,000 are feared to have perished in the earthquake which spread across Gujarat and neighbouring areas from an epicentre near Bhuj on Friday morning. And the count has only just begun. As we go to press less than 48 hours after first tremors were felt, all systems are only just getting out of the stunned stupor. But it is already evident that the magnitude of destruction far exceeds the devastation caused by the Latur earthquake in 1993. Measuring a disputed 6.7 on the Richter scale (foreign meteorological laboratories have registered a higher intensity), the earthquake has almost razed entire districts to the ground. Bhuj, the worst hit, has been completely isolated, with no communication links working. While there will eventually, sooner rather than later, be put in place a management plan and programme for the rescue and reconstruction work, as yet the scene is one of utter confusion and desperate hope.

More than 15,000 are feared to have perished in the earthquake which spread across Gujarat and neighbouring areas from an epicentre near Bhuj on Friday morning. And the count has only just begun. As we go to press less than 48 hours after first tremors were felt, all systems are only just getting out of the stunned stupor. But it is already evident that the magnitude of destruction far exceeds the devastation caused by the Latur earthquake in 1993. Measuring a disputed 6.7 on the Richter scale (foreign meteorological laboratories have registered a higher intensity), the earthquake has almost razed entire districts to the ground. Bhuj, the worst hit, has been completely isolated, with no communication links working. While there will eventually, sooner rather than later, be put in place a management plan and programme for the rescue and reconstruction work, as yet the scene is one of utter confusion and desperate hope.

Much can be written about the calamity, and much will be as the enormity of the disaster unfolds. Already however this earthquake has demolished finally all assumptions of the seismic stability of the subcontinental shelf. Notwithstanding the Latur earthquake the focus of seismological attention so far was the north-eastern regions. Although patches along the western coast and the peninsula had been designated as having moderate seismic activity, this information has remained on the charts of seismological departments. Now with three earthquakes having taken place, Koyna, Latur and Gujarat, scientific opinion will need to be reviewed.

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