Is Bucharest ready to rumble?

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Bucharest is vulnerable to a powerful earthquake, warn the authorities, who say that an earthquake of the magnitude of that seen on the 4th of March 1977 would have the same devastating consequences. According to statistics, 800 of Bucharest’s more than 130,000 buildings face serious damage in the event of an earthquake. The Bucharest City wants to amend the legislation to make it easier to evacuate the owners of high-risk buildings and conduct consolidation works.

The Minister for Development Sevil Shhaideh says another problem is that local authorities are not applying for funds to consolidate vulnerable buildings:

Sevil Shhaideh: “The rate of absorption does not exceed 10% of the sum allocated under this programme. We have again earmarked 25 million lei this year to finance the consolidation of buildings at risk. We are waiting for applications from local authorities. There are some special conditions to be able to enter the programme and obtain funding for consolidation works.”

VM Informing the population about what to do in the event of an earthquake may save lives, says the state secretary in the Interior Ministry Raed Arafat:

Raed Arafat: “Our focus in recent years has been on informing the public. We believe that the most important factor in responding to such disasters is the individual. If each and every one of us is prepared and knows what to do in the very first minutes, lives can be saved.”

There is no means of predicting well in advance when a powerful earthquake occurs, explains the director of the National Institute for Earth Physics, Constantin Ionescu. He says, however, that Romania is one of the few countries to be connected to a high-performing early warning system:

Constantin Ionescu: “At the moment, there is no possibility, anywhere in the world, to predict an earthquake long in advance. The only instrument that has been developed to date in the world is the type of early warning system used in Japan, Mexico, Taiwan and Romania, which gives the authorities 35 seconds of advance warning.”

VF Things were different in 1977 when Romania was hit by the most powerful earthquake in its post-war history. 1,500 people were killed, most of them in Bucharest. The earthquake destroyed and caused serious damage to 32,000 homes and led to an economic and social crisis that historians say the communist regime was unable to overcome until it collapsed, in December 1989.

(translated by: Cristina Mateescu)

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