Earthquakes pose a major threat to built environment

Earthquake damage in Ecuador (Photo: IFRC)

18 April 2016, GENEVA – The head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, Mr. Robert Glasser, today extended his condolences to the people of Ecuador and Japan for the loss of life in the earthquakes which have hit both countries in recent days.

Mr. Glasser said: "On behalf of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction I would like to extend my deepest sympathy to the people and governments of Ecuador and Japan for the tragic loss of so many lives in this series of earthquakes, aftershocks and landslides. The most important thing at this moment is the rescue phase and the provision of aid and comfort to those who have lost loved ones and suffered injury.

"These earthquakes are a reminder of how important it is that we apply the highest standards possible when building in earthquake zones. It is buildings and damaged infrastructure which kill people when an earthquake strikes. "Earthquakes and tsunamis are relatively rare natural hazards but they account for nearly 750,000 deaths over the last 20 years and very significant economic losses. Urbanization within highly seismic zones has accelerated significantly in recent years and it is vitally important that this is done in a way that is earthquake-resistant for future generations.

"Implementation of the global plan for reducing disaster losses, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction requires avoiding building on land susceptible to liquefaction, landslides and subsidence in the event of an earthquake. We need to build better in the first place and not just build back better after the event."

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