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Kashmir Could Face Major 9.0 Earthquake, 300,000 Lives at Risk, Even Delhi Buildings to Shake Hard

Seismologists Warn of Devastating Earthquake in Kashmir

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Srinagar – A recent study conducted by the University of Kashmir in collaboration with the University of Colorado warns that a devastating earthquake could hit the Kashmir Valley, which is located in Seismic Zone 5. The study estimates that the death toll could reach 300,000, given the region’s building codes and population density.

The Kashmir Valley is located in the Himalayan zone, which is divided into three seismic gaps – Kashmir, Central, and Assam. The Kashmir gap, which includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttrakhand, is considered to be in the highest risk zone. The study warns that a major earthquake could trigger landslides that would damage the Jhelum river, which flows from the Kashmir Valley into Pakistan.

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The valley has experienced nearly 100 tremors in 2020-2021, with some epicenters near Srinagar, according to the National Center for Seismology. The majority of buildings in Srinagar are not earthquake-resistant, and the city’s preparedness for earthquakes is extremely poor, according to the District Disaster Management Plan 2020 Srinagar.

The historical seismicity of the Kashmir valley and the adjoining region indicates that 14 damaging earthquakes have occurred since 1123. In 2005, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake rocked the region, killing over 55,100 people.

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“Earthquakes don’t kill people, buildings do,” says Imtiyaz Ahmed Parvez, Senior Principal Scientist at the Academy of Scientific and Innovative Research. “The regulation of building construction is a must and existing houses must go for retrofitting.”

Shakil Romshoo, Vice-Chancellor at the Islamic University of Science and Technology, says that the recent disaster in Turkey is a wake-up call for the Indian Himalaya region. “It is a wakeup call to remind us about our vulnerability to earthquakes in the Indian Himalaya,” he says.

The study conducted by the University of Kashmir and the University of Colorado didn’t predict the timing of the earthquake, but it stated that given the building codes and population in the region, it could lead to a death toll of 300,000 people. “Even the buildings in New Delhi will clatter to the ground by the impact of the magnitude of that earthquake,” the study found.

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In light of the study’s findings, it is imperative that the government takes necessary measures to ensure the safety of the people and the buildings in the Kashmir Valley and other high-risk seismic zones in the country. The regulation of building construction and retrofitting of existing houses are essential to prevent a potential disaster.

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