Kyrgyz authorities neglect disturbing forecasts by seismic experts
A strong earthquake measuring 5.5-6 magnitude on the Richter scale in the epicenter hit southern province of Osh in Kyrgyzstan on the first day of the new year, Ferghana.Ru reported earlier. The quake destroyed 983 housing facilities, 7 schools and several municipal facilities. Fortunately, there were no causalities reported. In the meantime former residents of demolished houses are confined to winterized tents under sub-zero temperatures.
Short before the quake Kyrgyz seismic experts warned about seismic hazard impending the country. On December 29, 2007, two days before the quake, the head of the Seismology Institute under the Academy of Science Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov informed Prime Minister Igor Chudinov about the possible natural disaster. The authorities counting on a miracle never warned residents of the at-risk zone about the coming earthquake shocks.
Disaster relief operation is being carried out in Osh province now. Emergencies Ministry staff, local authorities and the prime minister meets with the quake survivors begging for construction materials. If the government fails raising funds to ease the situation, quake victims will mend cracks in their squalid houses and keep on living until the following stroke reduces them to rubble.
Earthquakes exert hazardous impact in mountains by triggering landslides. Villages of the province located at the bottom of mountains are prone to landslides posing major hazard to lives of people. Scientists warn about landslide risk in the areas affected by the recent quake with a high degree of probability. The earthquake made provisions for landsliding in the Min Kush radioactive tailing dump in Naryn province. In case a landslide occurs the conservation system is likely to be damaged. Than nuclear waste will undeniably contaminate the Min Kush river, the Naryn and Syrdarya rivers.
Osh province experiences high earthquake activity at the time present and is exposed to the earthquake hazard of high intensity, the head of the Seismology Institute under the Academy of Science Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov said. Scientists forecast that the strength level of the possible quake could amount to 7-8 magnitude on the Richter scale eliminating 90 percent of housing facilities. Bishkek is prone to severe earthquakes too, seismic experts say. An earthquake measuring up to 8 on the Richter scale is likely to strike Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, in 2010-2011. "That disaster will claim lives of people, no doubt," Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov notifies.
The most distressing about the situation is the negligence of the authorities. Kurmanbek Bakiev's residency is located above the apparent seismic fault. Guest houses for the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting participants were erected in a seismic risk zone. "Just imagine that foreign guests were affected by the tremor!" the head of the Seismology Institute exclaims.
Kanatbek Abdrakhmatov owned up that he had submitted to the president a report warning about the seismic hazard endangering his residency. However, he never received a reply.
"Both top authorities and ordinary citizens used to recklessly count on a miracle. Just imagine that our seismic experts have not examined the earthquake site yet," Kanatbek complains.
Traveling of compressional waves indicates the arrivals of local earthquake waves recorded by seismic stations network of Kyrgyzstan. Fast propagation direction of waves is colored in blue; slow propagation direction is colored in yellow and red (according to [Roecker et al. 1993]) Straight line indicates the location of Talas-Fergana fault. The picture shows Kyrgyz state border. Picture by SCGIS.ru
Neither seismic scientists, no reporters intend to scare anybody with thrillers about possible quakes and accuse the authorities of negligence and willful failure to response forecasts. We hope those responsible for emergency warning would read the article and make everything possible to deliver information to endangered people in advance of disaster so they could evacuate from the potentially hazardous area.