Earthquake Lorca : Earthquake preparedness attitude might have saved some lives

Last update: May 15, 2011 at 6:04 pm by By

One of the people (probably) killed by falling debris in the streets of Lorca

At Earthquake-Report we are upset that a lot of people living in Lorca and other potentially dangerous earthquake sensitive areas in the world, are not at all earthquake prepared.

Main Reason : People have often had NO specific training on being earthquake prepared AND panic is taking over from rational thinking.

Lorca and the first 4.5 earthquake
After the first weak 4.5 earthquake, Earthquake-Report was alerted by the close distance of the epicenter to Lorca and even more by the shallow depth of the hypocenter. By experience, we know that the exact location of the epicenter can have easily an error margin of 10 or more km.  At first we were only looking for reports of cracks in walls and not for any major damage.  But even after the first shaking, reports of minor damage and the evacuation of a home for elderly people kept our attention.  Early reports out of Lorca mentioned people running into the streets.

Lorca and the second 5.2 earthquake
While writing our in-depth report on the first 4.5 magnitude quake, the news of a second 5.2 quake reached us. More and more news-facts did indicate that the damage was considerable and that people were hit by falling rubble from historic buildings, older houses, roof tiles, collapsing gutters, etc.

Video footage proves that people are not aware of the danger
As soon as the (very developed) Spanish press heard what happened (first quake), news gathering teams were sent to Lorca. The images from the collapsing clock tower were the direct result of the video teams present to report about the first quake.  The same footage gives us a good impression about what was going on immediately after the second 5.2 earthquake.

People were interviewed immediately after the second quake and told reporters what they had experienced with a vibrating emotional voice.
A woman told a reporter “My husband sent me out of the house when the shaking started“.
On many videos, people can also be seen walking in the sometimes narrow streets close to walls.
Both 2 red sentences are the main preparedness errors people are making again and again during an earthquake.
The chance of being severely injured or even being killed during an earthquake is way higher if you run out of the house than if you “drop, cover and hold” inside the house.
Falling debris has caused at least some people being killed in Lorca (based on many early media reports).
If a 1 kg stone falls on somebody’s head from a height of 4 to 5 meters, there will only be a small chance of surviving.
On the video we can see a Spanish TV reporter having a near death escape from a falling clock tower.

[youtube P7eDQ4DO2QU]

What will happen now, when and what is to expect ?
The mayor of Lorca indicated soon after the damaging shocks, that phone lines became overheated by people asking when the next quake will happen and at what expected time.
These kind of questions are only proving that people in Lorca (but also in the rest of the world) do not know where earthquakes come from and how they are generated.
We @ earthquake-report are 100% convinced that 99.999 % of the people will understand what is happening and how to behave if properly explained. This is a mission for this site, but also for schools, governments, local administrations, church groups etc.

The bottom line
Some basic earthquake preparedness lessons or educational material in schools, at workplaces, etc would  make less earthquake victims.
Additionally some simple earthquake theory and the teaching and publishing of the real probability of an earthquake in the media should reassure people!  Of course, an earthquake can happen at any time, but knowing the probability and the way to act should reassure people.

In a separate article , but also below, we are summarizing what you should do before, during and after an earthquake.

Most earthquake-related injuries and deaths result from falling debris, flying glass and collapsing structures such as buildings and bridges. Earthquakes can also trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires and tsunami.

1. Before an earthquake
Getting ready before an earthquake strikes will help reduce damage to your home and business and help you survive.
* Develop a Household Emergency Plan. Assemble and maintain your emergency survival Items for your home and workplace, as well as a portable getaway kit.
* Practice Drop, Cover and Hold.

2. During an earthquake
* If you are inside a building, move no more than a few steps, drop, cover and hold.
Stay indoors till the shaking stops and you are sure it is safe to exit
.
Do not attempt to run outside
In most earthquake-resistant constructed buildings you are safer if you stay where you are until the shaking stops.
* If you are in an elevator, drop, cover and hold. When the shaking stops, try and get out at the nearest floor if you can safely do so.
* If you are outside, move no more than a few steps away from buildings, trees, streetlights and power lines, then drop, cover and hold.
* If you are at the beach or near the coast, drop, cover and hold, then move to higher ground immediately in case a tsunami follows the quake.
* If you are driving, pull over to a clear location, stop and stay there with your seatbelt fastened until the shaking stops. Once the shaking stops, proceed with caution and avoid bridges or ramps that might have been damaged.
* If you are in a mountainous area or near unstable slopes or cliffs, be alert for falling debris or landslides.

3. After an earthquake
* Expect aftershocks and help those around you if you can
* Report injuries or fires to the emergency services.
* Put out small fires. Evacuate the building if the fires cannot be controlled.
* Listen to the radio for advice and information.
* If your property is damaged, take notes or photos for the loss adjustor.
* Do not go sightseeing and stay out of damaged buildings

Preparedness rules : courtesy New Zealand Emergency services

Comments

  1. Excellent advice – easy to understand and helpful. Well done!

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