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Why are Japan, Taiwan and other countries in that region prone to frequent earthquakes? How do they manage

The recent powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake that struck near Taiwan's Hualien City resulted in significant casualties and infrastructure damage, making it the strongest earthquake to hit the region in decades. While tsunami warnings were issued initially, they were later lifted.

Nitin Kumar Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 New Delhi Updated on: April 04, 2024 11:33 IST
Taiwan earthquake
Image Source : AP/FILE PHOTO A police officer stands guard near a partially collapsed building a day after a powerful earthquake struck in Hualien City, eastern Taiwan.

On Wednesday, a powerful magnitude 7.4 earthquake rattled the region just before 8:00 am local time, with its epicenter located 18 kilometers south of Taiwan’s Hualien City. The quake, striking at a depth of 34.8 kilometers, resulted in significant casualties and infrastructure damage, marking it as the strongest earthquake to hit Taiwan in decades. While the quake prompted tsunami warnings, they were later lifted, extending the alert to regions as far as Japan and the Philippines.

Understanding the earthquake

Wu Chien-fu, director of Taipei’s Central Weather Administration’s Seismology Center, explained that the earthquake’s shallow depth and proximity to land amplified its impact, with aftershocks continuing to be felt in Taipei.

Tsunami threat and mitigation efforts

Following the earthquake, authorities in Taiwan, Japan, and the Philippines issued tsunami warnings, underscoring the potential for devastating tsunamis triggered by seismic activity in the region. Despite advancements in geosciences, predicting earthquakes and tsunamis remains elusive. While automated warning systems and tsunami-resistant measures have been implemented, their efficacy against large, violent tsunami waves remains uncertain.

Geological factors and Tsunami origins

The Pacific Ring of Fire, characterised by numerous tectonic plate boundaries and subduction zones, makes the region prone to frequent earthquakes and subsequent tsunamis. The collision and movement of tectonic plates in these zones generate seismic energy, often resulting in earthquakes and volcanic activity.

Challenges in prediction and preparedness

While some progress has been made in tsunami prediction methods, the unpredictable and sporadic nature of earthquakes and tsunamis poses significant challenges. Countries in tsunami-prone regions, especially those along the Pacific Ring of Fire, must innovate and enhance measures to mitigate the impact of potential tsunamis.

Moving forward

Given the inherent uncertainties surrounding earthquake and tsunami prediction, proactive measures to enhance preparedness and response capabilities are crucial. Despite the unpredictable nature of seismic activity, efforts to develop robust warning systems and infrastructure resilience remain imperative to minimise the impact of future earthquakes and tsunamis.

A shield against earthquake havoc

Taiwan’s remarkable technological prowess has not only propelled it to the forefront of the semiconductor industry but has also played a crucial role in mitigating the impact of earthquakes, ensuring minimal damage and casualties.

Tech innovation amidst seismic activity

Despite experiencing approximately 2,000 earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 or greater since 1980, Taiwan has adeptly leveraged its technological advancements to withstand seismic disturbances.

Lessons learned from past tragedies

The devastating earthquake in September 1999, registering a magnitude of 7.6, served as a pivotal moment for Taiwanese officials to revamp their emergency response and disaster management strategies. The quake, which claimed nearly 2,500 lives and left tens of thousands injured, underscored the urgent need for improved preparedness measures.

Reinforcing emergency response

Criticism following the 1999 earthquake highlighted shortcomings in Taiwan’s emergency medical response, rescuer training, and inter-agency coordination. Subsequent efforts focused on bolstering these areas to ensure a more effective and coordinated response to future disasters.

Accountability and justice

In the aftermath of major seismic events, such as the 2016 earthquake that led to the collapse of a 17-storey apartment complex, authorities have held individuals accountable for negligence in construction practices. Such measures reinforce the importance of adherence to stringent building codes and safety standards.

A resilient future

With a commitment to innovation and preparedness, Taiwan continues to fortify its resilience against seismic threats. By harnessing its technological prowess and implementing robust policies, the island nation remains steadfast in its ability to navigate the challenges posed by earthquakes and safeguard its populace.

 

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