China wealthy enough to afford earthquake-proof construction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 April, 2010, 12:00am

Lessons must be learned from the two enormous earthquakes in Sichuan and Yushu .

Many individuals made donations to help the quake victims get back on their feet. However, this does not offer a permanent solution for people who must continue to live in parts of China prone to earthquakes.

Lives can be saved through preventive measures. Earthquake-proof designs can help prevent buildings from collapsing.

Houses should be built with shock-proof technology and fire-resistant materials.

Steel frames should be used instead of concrete and stone, and the foundations must be sunk deep into the bedrock.

The US and Japan have set good examples with these kinds of building techniques in their vulnerable regions.

One example, in San Francisco, is the Transamerica pyramid.

Structures like this can minimise injuries and fatalities when there is a quake. China is not poor and it is capable of adopting this kind of construction technology.

However, to make sure this happens, the government must introduce and then enforce regulations that govern the height and structure of buildings erected in quake-stricken areas. After the construction work is complete, they will need to pass strict tests.

There must also be efficient land-use planning. The central and regional authorities should designate large areas as open space to which people can be safely evacuated.

This land must be clearly identified so that all citizens know where they should flee when there is a tremor.

There must be better education and regular drills so people know what to do.

Again, lives can be saved if communities are well prepared.

Kanis Lam Tsz-kan, Ho Man Tin