How not to do seismic safety

Bird's eye View of Old Delhi.

Image by ~FreeBirD®~ via Flickr

An AP news article provides details about an ominous threat: Delhi ignores own quake peril warnings; January 25, 2012, Here is the lead in:

The ramshackle neighborhoods of northeast Delhi are home to 2.2 million people packed along narrow alleys. Buildings are made from a single layer of brick. Extra floors are added to dilapidated buildings not meant to handle their weight. Tangles of electrical cables hang precariously everywhere.

If a major earthquake were to strike India’s seismically vulnerable capital, these neighborhoods – India’s most crowded – would collapse into an apocalyptic nightmare. Waters from the nearby Yamuna River would turn the water-soaked subsoil to jelly, which would intensify the shaking.

The Indian government knows this and has done almost nothing about it.

Comparison of NZ and US seismic safety approaches

New Zealand quake could cost up to $4.5 billion, Market Watch, Sept. 7. Some interesting differences between NZ and US – there most residential structures have earthquake insurance. And their new construction requires consideration of seismic risk, but relatively few older masonry buildings were retrofitted for seismic safety. Sadly, the central business district of ChristChurch lost many of its historic masonry buildings.