Major Earthquakes of 2013: One Year Later

Baluchistan Province, Pakistan

On September 24, 2013 a 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, causing at least 348 deaths and leaving thousands more homeless and injured. Aid groups and members of the Pakistani military struggled to reach people in some of the most heavily affected areas – including the Awaran and Kech districts – where early reports estimated that at least 21,000 houses had been damaged. Despite dispatching teams with medical aid and necessities such as food and water, officials from the Pakistani military confirmed that the sparsely populated and remote region with an underdeveloped communications and transportation infrastructures made delivering aid in an expeditious fashion a challenge.

 

(photo courtesy of BBC.com)

The impressive force of the earthquake is also believed to have caused the formation of a small island in the Arabian Sea near the port city of Gwadar.

Since the devastating earthquake of 2013, the government of Pakistan in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WPF) is in the process of developing eight Humanitarian Response Facilities across the country including one in Baluchistan, an area frequently devastated by earthquakes and floods. Described by Lola Castro, WFP Country Director as a “humanitarian warehousing network,” these facilities will serve as logistics bases to strengthen disaster response efforts around the country. Castro said:

Strengthening disaster preparedness and response capacity is a priority for WFP. By establishing these humanitarian response facilities, WFP and partners aim to form a humanitarian warehousing network in the country. This will contribute to an effective and reliable logistics response mechanism at district level and, together with the Government of Pakistan, protect and empower communities most at risk.

The first Disaster Response warehouse is located in Chashma Achozai and will serve as a logistics base in the province of Baluchistan. It exists on a 15-acre site provided by the Provincial Government and is valued at US$4 million. Characteristics include:

  • Overall storage capacity of 4,000 metric tons
  • Permanent and pre-fabricated office space & storage facilities
  • Climate-controlled area for temperature-sensitive relief supplies
  • Earthquake resistant

To improve the response to future earthquakes, WFP and the Government of Pakistan are cooperating to establish a system of eight strategically located facilities at provincial levels to pre-position relief supplies and improve national emergency preparedness and response capacity. These Humanitarian Response Facilities may serve as a template for other international regions prone to earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Bohol, Philippines

On October 15, 2013 an earthquake of 7.2-magnitude struck central Philippines causing more than 200 deaths and extensive damage to roads and buildings, including the country’s renowned colonial Spanish churches.

According to  the Philippines National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), 222 were reported dead, 8 were missing, and 976 people were injured. In all, more than 73,000 structures were damaged, of which more than 14,500 were totally destroyed. This was the most deadly earthquake in the Philippines in 23 years.

(Photo courtesy of Reuters)

In the hardest hit islands of Bohol and Cebu, officials and aid workers struggled to coordinate aid efforts because of damaged roads and bridges. Adding to the grim death toll were reports of stampedes occurring as people, afraid that a tsunami would follow the earthquake, struggled to reach safer areas. Since the earthquake, the heavily affected communities of Bohol and Cebu have struggled to get back on their feet, and in Dec. 2013 the Philippine Red Cross issued a revised emergency appeal for approximately $8.5 million to help provide for the medical and shelter needs of at least 10,000 families. Thousands of people are sleeping outside with only the makeshift tarpaulin shelters provided for them by aid organizations and local health officials fear for the spread of diseases such as dengue due to contaminated water and poor living conditions.

One mitigation response from the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) ongoing national disaster information campaign has been the implementation of better technology tools to guide preparedness & response such 3D hazard maps, flood models, the global resource websites, and mobile applications for community preparedness.

The following video provides lessons learned from local leaders in the region:

Report written by Saadiyah Bilal, M.D.

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