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Ladakh on shaky ground

Frequent quakes raise seismic anxieties, experts advocate preparedness
12:45 AM Dec 27, 2023 IST | Irfan Raina
ladakh on shaky ground
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Ganderbal, Dec 26: Frequent earthquakes in the Ladakh region have set alarm bells ringing among the locals with experts calling for increasing preparedness levels to minimise the loss of lives in case of high magnitude tremblors.

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At least a dozen earthquakes and aftershocks have been felt in Ladakh since December 2, which has created fear among the people.

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On Tuesday morning, an earthquake measuring 4.5 on the Richter scale hit the Leh region of Ladakh, the National Center for Seismology (NCS) said on Tuesday.

As per the NCS, the location of the earthquake was Leh while the depth was 5 km.

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“Earthquake of Magnitude: 4.5, Occurred on 26-12-2023, 04:33:54 IST, Lat: 34.73 & Long: 77.07, Depth: 5 Km, Location: Leh, Ladakh (sic),” NCS posted on X.

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However, there were no reports of any damage caused by the earthquake in the area.

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On December 19, a mild-intensity earthquake hit Kargil district of Ladakh, which was the fifth earthquake in the Union Territory within two days.

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“Earthquake of Magnitude: 3.4, Occurred on 19-12-2023, 10:31:22 IST, Lat: 33.33 & Long: 76.85, Depth: 10 Km, Region: Zanskar, Kargil, Ladakh (sic),” the NCS said on X.

Director of Meteorological Center, Leh, Sonam Lotus said that there was no need to panic about the frequent tremors felt in J&K and Ladakh.

He said that Ladakh falls in seismic zone IV and given the vulnerabilities of the region, it was best to be prepared to deal with any such natural disaster.

“We need to view the earthquakes and aftershocks positively and take precautionary measures, such as constructing our houses based on seismically approved designs to minimise losses,” Lotus said.

Faizan Arif, who operates a Kashmir weather channel, said these small earthquakes are a reminder for us to build earthquake-resilient structures.

He said that some steps that could be taken were using reinforced concrete or stone foundations that can anchor the structure firmly to the ground and resist movement during earthquakes.

“Design the building with a simple and symmetrical shape to evenly distribute stress and prevent collapse. Use strong and flexible materials like steel or reinforced concrete for the frame to withstand tremors. Avoid heavy hanging objects on walls or ceilings that could fall and cause injuries. Avoid using brittle materials like unreinforced masonry that can easily crack or crumble. Use shatter-resistant glass or protective shutters for windows and doors to prevent injuries from flying debris,” Arif said.

Senior Assistant Professor Department of Geo-Informatics, University of Kashmir, Irfan Rashid said, “Hope these jolts don't induce slope failures or failure of moraine-dammed lakes that have the potential for glacial lake outburst formation (GLOFs),” he said.

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