On Saturday April 25, 2015 a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal approximately 50 km outside its capital of Kathmandu, the worst earthquake to hit the region in 80 years and caused an avalanche on Mount Everest, killing at least 17 on the mountain. The death toll so far is well over 4,300 people, with nearly 5,000 injured and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. In addition, other countries in the region were affected including 56 deaths in India, 20 in China, and 25 deaths and 117 injuries in Tibet. The earthquake only hit a depth of about 11 km, a relatively shallow quake. Unfortunately, the shallower the quake, the more destruction it leaves in its wake. “The shallowness of the source made the ground-shaking at the surface worse than it would have been for a deeper earthquake,” said Dr. David Rothery, a professor of planetary geosciences. The quake continues to cause large aftershocks, causing more destruction.
The strongest earthquake to hit Northern California in 25 years occurred Sunday August 24th at 3:20am. The magnitude 6.0 earthquake was located near American Canyon, CA, approximately 6 miles south of the city of Napa.
Early Morning Devastation
The pre-dawn trembler woke many area residents from their sleep, and individuals all across the Bay Area felt the impact with nearly nine million people experiencing the tremors. Initially, 70,000 customers lost electricity, but by Monday morning only 2,200 were left without power reported the electric company Pacific Gas & Electric. In addition, multiple water lines were ruptured during the event, and it may take a week to have them all repaired said Napa Public Works Director Jack Rochelle. However, “Running water is safe to drink,” stated Rochelle. Napa Division Fire Chief John Callanan told reporters that the earthquake spurred six major fires that destroyed multiple mobile homes in the area. Some of these fires were caused by broken gas lines. There were 20 gas distribution “outages,” and utility team are responding to several hundred “gas odor” calls. Amtrak suspended its train service through the Bay Area so tracks could be inspected. Governor Jerry Brown has declared a State of Emergency.
A 6.1 magnitude earthquake has struck China’s Yunnan Province near the Qiaojia County of Zhaotang prefecture. Reports so far suggest that at least 390 have been killed and hundreds are missing due to the devastation, though rescuers are still searching for trapped survivors. The rescue efforts have been complicated by recent mudslides in the area which have made some roads impassable, NPR reports. Additionally, over 1,400 have been injured, 12,000 homes have collapsed and at least 30,000 have sustained damaged. A resident described the scene as a “battlefield after bombardment”. While the USGS is reporting the earthquake to be of magnitude 6.1, the China Earthquake Networks Centre is rating the quake at 6.5
The United States Geological Survey has previously expressed concerns about the infrastructure in the area, saying: “Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are highly vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick masonry and ductile reinforced concrete frame construction.”
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)