Nepal sits between China and India. Last month the country was hit by a major earthquake. Earthquakes are measured in magnitudes (amounts) of 1-10 on The Richter Scale. The first Nepal Earthquake measured 7.8 which is a BIG DEAL.
And now a SECOND EARTHQUAKE has hit which measures 7.3 magnitude. Which is still pretty bad when you think the worse the UK suffered was in 1931 and only measured a magnitude of 6.1..
Over 5,000 people died in the first Nepal Earthquake. One expert compared the power of the earthquake to the explosion of 100 million tonnes of explosives. As well as extensive damage to buildings across the country, several mountaineers lost their lives when the earthquake triggered avalanches on Mount Everest – the world’s highest mountain.
Answer: Nepal’s location makes it vulnerable to Earthquakes.
If, like me, you found yourself falling asleep in Geography class (don’t get me started on coastal erosion…) here is a quick guide to earthquakes. Underneath the Earth’s crust, the world is made up of areas called tectonic plates. Due to currents underneath, the plates are constantly moving.
Earthquakes are caused when two tectonic plates sliding by each other get caught. Pressure builds up and when the plates finally break free, the release in energy causes tremors which ripple up to the surface = an Earthquake.
Nepal is right in the middle of a “fault line” between the Indian and Eurasian plates. The Indian plate is pushing forwards at about 2 inches a year. This is quite fast, if you’re a geologist.
Knowing that another hit was due, experts were in Nepal before the earthquake hit and warned that a disaster of this type was coming in the next few years.
Even if you look at what happens before – each Earthquake is unique and difficult to predict. STORY OF OUR LIVES. Different amounts of pressure under the Earth’s surface, the speed the tectonic plates are travelling at and the amount of energy needed to break the two plates apart when they jam together ALL FACTOR IN.
Location is also important. The location of the epi-centre (the centre of the earthquake, where the tremors are most powerful) and how far away it is from a major settlement is a key factor in how much damage will occur.
Research is being done on “silent earthquakes” – which have been found to occur weeks prior to major earthquakes. Energy equaling that of a magnitude 7 earthquake is released, but you can only know it has happened by looking at sensors placed on the sea floor. Normal earthquake measures don’t pick them up.
So: You know it’s coming, but you don’t know when.
Scientists had warned another earthquake was a possibility. There is always the danger of aftershocks – smaller earthquakes that take place after the main event. At least 15 small aftershocks had already taken place in Nepal so far. The second earthquake today (12.05.2015) could lead to another round of aftershocks. It appears to be never ending.
Even if you could predict exactly when an earthquake will hit, getting buildings prepared and organising evacuations costs time and money.
Reports say the worst damage has been done to older buildings and to villages where the houses are less well constructed.
In Japan, a country hit by frequent earthquakes, buildings are specially constructed to resist earthquake shocks. Schools and workplaces hold regular drills to ensure citizens know the best ways to protect themselves in the event of an earthquake.
Nepal is not a rich country like Japan. Around half of the population live below the poverty line, and many buildings around the city are not strong enough to withstand natural disasters such as the Nepal Earthquake. Overcrowding and poverty mean Nepal doesn’t have the resources to cope compared to Japan and the USA.