Earthquakes are in the category of natural disasters whose impact cannot be mitigated. They vary in size, with the damage they cause only increasing the larger they get.
There have been significantly adverse earthquakes in each century of Myanmar’s long history. We’ve seen moderately strong earthquakes annually these past few years as well. There was the Tarlay earthquake in 2011, Thabeik Kyin earthquake in 2012 and particularly strong ones in Kalay and Chauk in 2016.
These earthquakes not only destroyed people’s homes and caused casualties, but also damaged the invaluable cultural heritage located in the ancient city of Bagan. There were also some strong earthquakes last month that warned us of their dangers. A 4.7-magnitude quake occurred near Mawlaik on 2 August, a 3.5-magnitude quake near Mohnyin on 3 August with another near Sinbo on the same day, and a 6-magnitude near Shwebo at 9:39 p.m. on 31 August.
The earthquake occurred between the Sagaing Fault and Kabaw Fault and could be accompanied by additional quakes. There is still no technology to predict when earthquakes will happen and because of their infrequency, people do not tend to make adequate preparations against them.
And with the recent flooding and strong winds rocking this rainy season, there is even less focus on earthquakes. But they are not seasonal and can occur at any time of the year. Experts predict them to be the biggest natural disaster issue for Myanmar in the long run. No matter the case, it is well advised to be properly prepared against and respond to earthquakes should they occur.
The National Earthquake Preparation and Response Plan was introduced recently. We must prepare the necessary strategies, action plans, implementations, laws, rules, regulations and awareness campaigns to protect ourselves from earthquakes.
Natural phenomena are changing and we should be prepared to reduce casualties. We must shield our homes and lives from these unpredictable earthquakes and reduce the damage they cause as much as possible.