Earthquake in Bihar, its impact and outcome (25-26 April & 12 May, 2015)- Sambal member upload

Awareness on how to deal with disasters can significantly prevent trauma related issues, as also death and injuries caused by earthquakes in seismically active regions

BY: Asif Shahab
Original Source / Author: Asif Shahab 08 Jan, 2018
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Earthquake in Bihar, its impact and outcome (25-26 April & 12 May, 2015)

 

The earthquake occurred on 25 April 2015 at 11:56 a.m. NST (06:11:26 UTC) at a depth of approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) (which is considered shallow and therefore more damaging than quakes that originate deeper in the ground), with its epicentre approximately 34 km (21 mi) east-southeast of Lamjung, Nepal, lasting approximately twenty seconds. The earthquake was initially reported as 7.5 Mw by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) before it was quickly upgraded to 7.8 Mw. Besides rendering millions homeless in Nepal it claimed thousands of lives and many people succumbed to their injuries. It also didn’t spare the state of Bihar in terms of loss of life, properties and infrastructure. According of Department of Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar, as many as 61 people died 163 people were injured.

 

A second major earthquake occurred on 12 May 2015 at 12:51 NST with a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.3Mw 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Kodari. The epicenter was near the Chinese border between the capital of Kathmandu and Mt. Everest. Tremors were also felt in northern parts of India including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other North-Indian States.

 

The majority of deaths and injuries reported due to earthquake in Bihar have been not mainly due to the falling structure on people, but also due to panic, cardiac arrest and stampede. In various parts of the northern districts of the state, damages to the public and private buildings have been unevenly distributed in different parts of Bihar and not only confining to a fixed area. (Reports of damage to houses and loss of life and injuries in Bihar is at annexure 1.)

 

The Bihar State Disaster Management Authority took cognizance of the situation started gathering accurate technical and other information from various sources. This was necessary and important in order to plan out the strategy. Soon the magnitude and impact of the earthquake was clear and it appeared to be a major earthquake which devastated Nepal to huge extent and also impacted Bihar to considerable extent. In the aftermath of the earthquake, one of the crucial decisions taken by BSDMA to send teams to border areas of Bihar-Nepal to observe the earthquake impact and also make an analysis of human behaviour post earthquake. Based on the field level behaviour study many key issues were noted. These behavioural patterns broadly indicate the following –

  1. Those who knew about Dos and Don’ts of earthquake behaved in more responsible manner than those who didn’t know.
  2. Many people informed about the hangover of the earthquake after several days of it and they kept feeling shaking.
  3. A large number of people in the community stayed in parks and open areas for many days after the earthquake.
  4. Religion plays a very important role in overcoming the impact of disasters – as immediate relief and also as psycho-social healer.
  5. Impression of quakes remained in the minds of people for long.
  6. Most of the people felt – Nausea, Vomiting, heart beat rise

It was also evident from the study that the recent earthquake unearthed three types of disaster personalities namely 1. Freeze 2. Panic 3. Proactive Response

 

Learning from the mixed responses from the people through field visits, it exemplified that despite the nervousness, at the time of earthquake those residents who were aware and knew what to do and how to react when the forceful quake hit. No matter what type of catastrophe strikes, it signified how it is vital to be prepared. With the right knowledge and the right equipment, they made it possible to survive an earthquake of this magnitude. It also illustrates that once you have a plan in place, implement the tools necessary to keep you and your family safe from varying degree of hazards. In addition, making sure to review plans regularly along with family help them to ensure that they know what to do if disaster strikes your home or community. As stated earlier, there have been reports from the field that some people died not due to the collapse of buildings/structures but also due to panicky and stampede thronging anxious residents spilling into the streets. Those people who were not aware about basics of earthquake Dos and don’ts jumped from higher places which resulted into death and severe injuries. Students and Teachers of Secondary School under UNICEF supported School Safety programme (Bisfi Block, Madhubani district) asserted that EQ Safety awareness helped the students to take proactive role at the time of EQ- (Drop, Cover, Hold, Controlling rumours, taking shelter at identified safe locations , post earthquake actions etc).

 

This kind of reaction added one more element to the fact that “earthquake don’t kill people, building do. In the context of Bihar, Low-cost and informal buildings failed as anticipated, meaning that earthquakes disproportionately affect the poorest in the community, and usually leave them even poorer. The technology and skills to practically eliminate this scale of fatality are available. Yet people are not practicing it who need them most. Earthquakes are not just a “natural” crisis: they reflect a poverty crisis. This is a development problem in the state produced by a failure to incorporate risk and resilience into long-term planning. "In mostly remote areas in Bihar, buildings aren’t designed or engineered, they are just built. A simple intervention can make a huge difference, adding that the infrastructure must also be appropriate for the particular setting. An earthquake shouldn’t have to be the impetus to “build back better” after lives have already been destroyed. Building better should start from day one.

 

-Reports from the field also indicated that how people’s perceptions and attitudes towards earthquake risk are shaped by religion, custom and social norms. Most of the respondents including a priest of a renowned temple repeatedly vindicated the earthquake as an act of God. People fleeing from Nepal to Bihar of all faiths asserted the earthquake as divine punishment. Religion is a particularly important driver of perceptions and behaviour. The two dimensions of belief that emerge most prominently in the context of disaster risk reduction (DRR) are the way it forms an obstacle to reducing risk and influences people’s understanding of it.

 

People with higher everyday anxiety levels may have a greater tendency to freeze or totally shut down in an emergency. This became apparent when such few cases were noted after the earthquake. There were few people who could not neither react to the situation or took proactive response which led them to take abnormal step resulting into loosing their precious life.  

 

A team of AIIMS Patna that had gone to Nepal for relief work after the April 25 quake that killed more than 8000 people there has come out with a study on quake-hit people of the Himalayan nation and bordering areas in Bihar that at least 40 per cent people are suffering from vertigo, vomiting, headache, dizziness and fear. “The case report suggests the medical disorders due to quake phobia have emerged as a major problem which needs to be tackled. Many people are no more feeling healthy after the destructive Nepal-India Earthquakes on and after 25th April, 2015. This general lose of health has been termed as Post Nepal India Earthquake Syndrome (PINES) by AIIMS Patna.

 

The region which is affected by this Syndrome spreads from Kosi, Gorakhpur and north Nepal to regions of Bihar like Betia, Motihari, Sitamadhhi, Muzzafarpur, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur, Siwan, Chhapara, Patna and Vaishali etc. People have not been divert their attention to help them overcome the trauma which has affected people cutting across age groups. Delusion of quakes gave sleepless nights to people and they spent nights looking at ceiling fans to confirm whether or not the earth is shaking again.

 

It is also important to assess the condition of houses according to census data 2011, which takes into account the capability of houses with regard to seismic vulnerability.

 

According to census data 2011: Odisha, Assam and Bihar, the trio lead India as states with the largest proportion of dilapidated houses. Odisha leads with 9.9 per cent of houses being dilapidated, followed closely by Assam (8.3 per cent) and Bihar (7.4 per cent). At the district level, similar trends are available with Saran reporting 8.6 per cent of houses as dilapidated, while Sitamarhi (6.2 per cent) and several other districts recording figures a little above or below the state average.

 

Where houses are liveable: But Bihar’s 36.1 per cent ‘good’ houses and 7.4 ‘dilapidated’ houses do not quite constitute a major chunk of all houses in the state. The indicator ‘Condition of houses – livable’ offers an insight. The states with the largest proportion of houses in the ‘livable’ category, once again, are Odisha, Assam and Bihar, according to Census 2011 data. Odisha leads with 62.1 per cent houses as ‘livable’, followed by Bihar (55.6 per cent) and Assam (55.4 per cent). On the other hand, a relatively prosperous state such as Kerala (38.4 per cent) has less proportion of houses in the livable category. The ‘livable’ category is somewhere between ‘dilapidated’ and ‘good’. A ‘livable’ house may not be dilapidated but is does not assure the safety and strength a ‘good’ house does.

 

Bihar is clearly a seismically active zone. It's hard to say exactly when and where the next earthquake will hit, but we know big quakes are inevitable. Yet throughout the region, buildings continue to be poorly constructed and topple easily in earthquakes.  In many of the districts of Bihar, contractors often fail to adhere to building codes. What's more, the building codes that do exist often only apply to civic structures — not the places where people live. The result? In an earthquake, these buildings collapse, and lots of people die.

 

There is an often-repeated saying, “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.” Although you can’t control the seismic hazard in the community where you live or work, you can influence the most important factor in saving lives and reducing losses from an earthquake: the adoption and enforcement of up-to-date building codes. Evaluating older buildings and retrofitting structural and non-structural components also are critical steps. To survive and remain resilient, communities should also strengthen their core infrastructure and critical facilities so that these can withstand an earthquake or other disaster and continue to provide essential services.

 

Planning for next earthquake should start today. That process begins with a commitment to end the poor quality housing that has caused so much needless loss of life here. Modern buildings constructed to proper building standards would have withstood last disaster in Bihar. Fatalities from earthquakes are a man-made problem so there has to be a man-made solution.

Earthquake in Bihar, its impact and outcome (25-26 April & 12 May, 2015)

 

The earthquake occurred on 25 April 2015 at 11:56 a.m. NST (06:11:26 UTC) at a depth of approximately 15 km (9.3 mi) (which is considered shallow and therefore more damaging than quakes that originate deeper in the ground), with its epicentre approximately 34 km (21 mi) east-southeast of Lamjung, Nepal, lasting approximately twenty seconds. The earthquake was initially reported as 7.5 Mw by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) before it was quickly upgraded to 7.8 Mw. Besides rendering millions homeless in Nepal it claimed thousands of lives and many people succumbed to their injuries. It also didn’t spare the state of Bihar in terms of loss of life, properties and infrastructure. According of Department of Disaster Management Department, Government of Bihar, as many as 61 people died 163 people were injured.

 

A second major earthquake occurred on 12 May 2015 at 12:51 NST with a moment magnitude (Mw) of 7.3Mw 18 km (11 mi) southeast of Kodari. The epicenter was near the Chinese border between the capital of Kathmandu and Mt. Everest. Tremors were also felt in northern parts of India including Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and other North-Indian States.

 

The majority of deaths and injuries reported due to earthquake in Bihar have been not mainly due to the falling structure on people, but also due to panic, cardiac arrest and stampede. In various parts of the northern districts of the state, damages to the public and private buildings have been unevenly distributed in different parts of Bihar and not only confining to a fixed area. (Reports of damage to houses and loss of life and injuries in Bihar is at annexure 1.)

 

The Bihar State Disaster Management Authority took cognizance of the situation started gathering accurate technical and other information from various sources. This was necessary and important in order to plan out the strategy. Soon the magnitude and impact of the earthquake was clear and it appeared to be a major earthquake which devastated Nepal to huge extent and also impacted Bihar to considerable extent. In the aftermath of the earthquake, one of the crucial decisions taken by BSDMA to send teams to border areas of Bihar-Nepal to observe the earthquake impact and also make an analysis of human behaviour post earthquake. Based on the field level behaviour study many key issues were noted. These behavioural patterns broadly indicate the following –

  1. Those who knew about Dos and Don’ts of earthquake behaved in more responsible manner than those who didn’t know.
  2. Many people informed about the hangover of the earthquake after several days of it and they kept feeling shaking.
  3. A large number of people in the community stayed in parks and open areas for many days after the earthquake.
  4. Religion plays a very important role in overcoming the impact of disasters – as immediate relief and also as psycho-social healer.
  5. Impression of quakes remained in the minds of people for long.
  6. Most of the people felt – Nausea, Vomiting, heart beat rise

It was also evident from the study that the recent earthquake unearthed three types of disaster personalities namely 1. Freeze 2. Panic 3. Proactive Response

 

Learning from the mixed responses from the people through field visits, it exemplified that despite the nervousness, at the time of earthquake those residents who were aware and knew what to do and how to react when the forceful quake hit. No matter what type of catastrophe strikes, it signified how it is vital to be prepared. With the right knowledge and the right equipment, they made it possible to survive an earthquake of this magnitude. It also illustrates that once you have a plan in place, implement the tools necessary to keep you and your family safe from varying degree of hazards. In addition, making sure to review plans regularly along with family help them to ensure that they know what to do if disaster strikes your home or community. As stated earlier, there have been reports from the field that some people died not due to the collapse of buildings/structures but also due to panicky and stampede thronging anxious residents spilling into the streets. Those people who were not aware about basics of earthquake Dos and don’ts jumped from higher places which resulted into death and severe injuries. Students and Teachers of Secondary School under UNICEF supported School Safety programme (Bisfi Block, Madhubani district) asserted that EQ Safety awareness helped the students to take proactive role at the time of EQ- (Drop, Cover, Hold, Controlling rumours, taking shelter at identified safe locations , post earthquake actions etc).

 

This kind of reaction added one more element to the fact that “earthquake don’t kill people, building do. In the context of Bihar, Low-cost and informal buildings failed as anticipated, meaning that earthquakes disproportionately affect the poorest in the community, and usually leave them even poorer. The technology and skills to practically eliminate this scale of fatality are available. Yet people are not practicing it who need them most. Earthquakes are not just a “natural” crisis: they reflect a poverty crisis. This is a development problem in the state produced by a failure to incorporate risk and resilience into long-term planning. "In mostly remote areas in Bihar, buildings aren’t designed or engineered, they are just built. A simple intervention can make a huge difference, adding that the infrastructure must also be appropriate for the particular setting. An earthquake shouldn’t have to be the impetus to “build back better” after lives have already been destroyed. Building better should start from day one.

 

-Reports from the field also indicated that how people’s perceptions and attitudes towards earthquake risk are shaped by religion, custom and social norms. Most of the respondents including a priest of a renowned temple repeatedly vindicated the earthquake as an act of God. People fleeing from Nepal to Bihar of all faiths asserted the earthquake as divine punishment. Religion is a particularly important driver of perceptions and behaviour. The two dimensions of belief that emerge most prominently in the context of disaster risk reduction (DRR) are the way it forms an obstacle to reducing risk and influences people’s understanding of it.

 

People with higher everyday anxiety levels may have a greater tendency to freeze or totally shut down in an emergency. This became apparent when such few cases were noted after the earthquake. There were few people who could not neither react to the situation or took proactive response which led them to take abnormal step resulting into loosing their precious life.  

 

A team of AIIMS Patna that had gone to Nepal for relief work after the April 25 quake that killed more than 8000 people there has come out with a study on quake-hit people of the Himalayan nation and bordering areas in Bihar that at least 40 per cent people are suffering from vertigo, vomiting, headache, dizziness and fear. “The case report suggests the medical disorders due to quake phobia have emerged as a major problem which needs to be tackled. Many people are no more feeling healthy after the destructive Nepal-India Earthquakes on and after 25th April, 2015. This general lose of health has been termed as Post Nepal India Earthquake Syndrome (PINES) by AIIMS Patna.

 

The region which is affected by this Syndrome spreads from Kosi, Gorakhpur and north Nepal to regions of Bihar like Betia, Motihari, Sitamadhhi, Muzzafarpur, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Madhubani, Samastipur, Siwan, Chhapara, Patna and Vaishali etc. People have not been divert their attention to help them overcome the trauma which has affected people cutting across age groups. Delusion of quakes gave sleepless nights to people and they spent nights looking at ceiling fans to confirm whether or not the earth is shaking again.

 

It is also important to assess the condition of houses according to census data 2011, which takes into account the capability of houses with regard to seismic vulnerability.

 

According to census data 2011: Odisha, Assam and Bihar, the trio lead India as states with the largest proportion of dilapidated houses. Odisha leads with 9.9 per cent of houses being dilapidated, followed closely by Assam (8.3 per cent) and Bihar (7.4 per cent). At the district level, similar trends are available with Saran reporting 8.6 per cent of houses as dilapidated, while Sitamarhi (6.2 per cent) and several other districts recording figures a little above or below the state average.

 

Where houses are liveable: But Bihar’s 36.1 per cent ‘good’ houses and 7.4 ‘dilapidated’ houses do not quite constitute a major chunk of all houses in the state. The indicator ‘Condition of houses – livable’ offers an insight. The states with the largest proportion of houses in the ‘livable’ category, once again, are Odisha, Assam and Bihar, according to Census 2011 data. Odisha leads with 62.1 per cent houses as ‘livable’, followed by Bihar (55.6 per cent) and Assam (55.4 per cent). On the other hand, a relatively prosperous state such as Kerala (38.4 per cent) has less proportion of houses in the livable category. The ‘livable’ category is somewhere between ‘dilapidated’ and ‘good’. A ‘livable’ house may not be dilapidated but is does not assure the safety and strength a ‘good’ house does.

 

Bihar is clearly a seismically active zone. It's hard to say exactly when and where the next earthquake will hit, but we know big quakes are inevitable. Yet throughout the region, buildings continue to be poorly constructed and topple easily in earthquakes.  In many of the districts of Bihar, contractors often fail to adhere to building codes. What's more, the building codes that do exist often only apply to civic structures — not the places where people live. The result? In an earthquake, these buildings collapse, and lots of people die.

 

There is an often-repeated saying, “Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do.” Although you can’t control the seismic hazard in the community where you live or work, you can influence the most important factor in saving lives and reducing losses from an earthquake: the adoption and enforcement of up-to-date building codes. Evaluating older buildings and retrofitting structural and non-structural components also are critical steps. To survive and remain resilient, communities should also strengthen their core infrastructure and critical facilities so that these can withstand an earthquake or other disaster and continue to provide essential services.

 

Planning for next earthquake should start today. That process begins with a commitment to end the poor quality housing that has caused so much needless loss of life here. Modern buildings constructed to proper building standards would have withstood last disaster in Bihar. Fatalities from earthquakes are a man-made problem so there has to be a man-made solution.

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Government of Bihar

Disaster Management Department