Experts dispatched to Bukoba for weekend quake checks

The Geological Survey of Tanzania (GST) has sent a team of experts to Bukoba to do a thorough professional assessment on last weekend’s earthquake that claimed the lives of 17 people.

A statement from the geological body said yesterday that more information would be released according to researches to be conducted on the matter. 

According to the report availed to the media, the team will also give details on the various reports of the earthquakes recorded at various centres, especially Geita, which is situated nearer the Saturday disaster. 

Grief, tears, pain and nagging fear engulfed residents of Kagera Region as thousands of them thronged the Kaitaba Stadium to pay last respects to their fallen relatives. While the sickening memory of Saturday’s 5.7 Richter scale magnitude earthquake still hangs around, the death toll as of yesterday was 16. 

The Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, promised on Sunday that a team of experts from his office responsible for Disaster Management was heading to Kagera to team up with regional leaders to assess the exact damage caused by the tremor and the humanitarian assistance needed. 

Meanwhile, several patients admitted to the Bukoba Regional Referral hospital have asked the National Seismological Unit under the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) to devise a sustainable mechanism on early warning to avoid similar catastrophe. 

The prime minister had addressed hundreds of Bukoba residents at the Kaitaba Stadium, assuring the tremor’s victims who lost their properties, including residential houses, that the government would ensure that they get the necessary assistance to enable them continue to lead a normal and decent life. 

The GST further released directives on how people should take precautions should the earthquake re-occur. 

“In an event the earthquake occurs, you are advised to stay at a secure and open space that has no tall buildings or hills,’’ reads the statement in part. 

The precaution from GST added that people should stay vigilant as many earthquakes come with fire incidents. Official reports from the region indicated that apart from the deaths, 170 people still remained on hospital beds, fighting for their lives, while 83 others were treated and discharged. 

Though the actual cost of damages was yet to be established, initial official reports indicated that about 840 residential houses crumpled while 1,264 developed cracks. 

The ‘Daily News’ yesterday visited the Bukoba Regional Hospital where Angela Sebastian (32), a resident of Bakoba Ward, said she spent the night outside fearing the house would collapse any time. “Panic was high’’, she reported. “The tremor occurred at around 10pm. 

I was preparing to go to bed and I quickly rushed to the backyard where I stayed until morning,” she told this newspaper. An expert from GST, Mr Gabriel Mbogoni, told the ‘Daily News’ that the Saturday afternoon tremor was the most intensive earthquake ever experienced in the country. 

According to the expert, this was the second earthquake to hit Tanzania in recent years, recalling the last one, which was reported in Bariadi District in Simiyu Region in 2000. 

He said that normally, earthquakes never hit once, predicting the possibility of a reoccurence in the same area after a couple of days, scientifically known as aftershocks. 

Responding to a question on whether the institution has released an alert on the happening, Mr Mbogoni said it is normally impossible for authorities to issue an early warning, observing that even developed countries have failed to do so. Meanwhile, one more person from Misenyi District has died following the earthquake, raising the death toll to 17. 

The Kagera Regional Commissioner, Mr Salim Kijuu, told the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s office, Ms Jennister Mhagama, who arrived in Bukoba Municipality yesterday afternoon that 17 people have been confirmed to have died from the tremor. 

Ms Mhagama commended Kagera leaders, medical doctors and nurses for responding positively to the disaster by attending the injured people and those who died. 

She, however, called on geologists under the National Seismological Unit of the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) to devise a sustainable mechanism on early warning to avoid similar catastrophe. 

“Geologists should start educating members of the public how to behave during and after earthquakes. Also, they should advise people on best structures (houses) that endure earthquakes,” she said. 

Mr Kijuu also informed the minister that 61 out of 170 patients who were admitted to hospitals have been discharged with other 109 still admitted. 

Experts dispatched to Bukoba for weekend quake checks Experts dispatched to Bukoba for weekend quake checks Reviewed by on 11:50:00 PM Rating: 5

No comments: