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Burma urged to prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis

(Image: Myanmar Earthquake Committee )

The Myanmar Earthquake Committee has warned that the risk exists of a high-intensity earthquake on the Sagaing Fault which could trigger a tsunami along the Burmese coastline, and has recommended that preparations be undertaken.

Speaking at a seminar in Pathein to mark World Tsunami Awareness Day on Sunday, vice-chairperson of Myanmar Earthquake Committee Dr. Yin Myo Min Htwe said, “Ayeyarwady Region is located in Zone 3 of the Sagaing faultline and is most likely to be hit by earthquakes measuring 7 or more on the Mercalli Scale.

“Being a delta region, Ayeyarwady should be prepared for earthquakes.”

However, according to a spokesman for the Ministry of Relief and Resettlement, the potential risks from earthquakes and tsunamis have been studied, and measures are being taken to mitigate any destruction should a natural disaster occur. He urged local people in the Ayeyarwady delta not to panic.

Addressing the audience in Pathein yesterday, Than Soe from the respective directorate within the Ministry of Relief and Resettlement said, “Ngwe Saung and Chaung Tha beaches are located close to mountain ranges, making relocation much easier. Also, hotels on the sites were built to withstand natural disasters.”

He added: “We are also building shelters in Baw Mi village in Thar Paung Township, which has the highest rate of seismic activity in the region.”

In 2004, a tsunami hit some 16 villages in the delta region, including the townships of Labutta and Ngaputaw. According to government data, 30 people were killed and 108 injured.

Some 226,000 people were killed on 26 December 2004 in the most devastating tsunami in living memory, caused by an 8.8-magnitude tremor that struck off the coast of Indonesia. Although the killer waves struck India, Sri Lanka and even as far as the east coast of Africa, Burma was largely spared the tsunami’s wrath.