Thousands of homes and buildings in Turkey and Syria turned into rubble after the strong earthquake and the aftershocks that followed, while the death toll continues to rise hour after hour.
This earthquake is the most severe in decades, while the area affected by the disaster is located at a point known as the Anatolian fault line, which is highly susceptible to earthquakes, at a time when the US Geological Survey indicated that the approved construction in these areas does not take into account the major risks that may arise from earthquakes.
In Syria, civil defense officials say entire areas were demolished simultaneously in the earthquake, as a result of the weakness of the buildings in those areas.
What are building codes.. and how can they be updated?
- The Egyptian authorities decided to update what is known as the “building code” in the country, in order to avoid huge losses in the event of a strong earthquake.
The head of the Housing and Building Center in Egypt, Khaled Al-Dhahabi, said in statements to Sky News Arabia that the building codes are scientific rules that are developed in the construction work of all real estate and facilities, making them bear loads and various natural changes, taking into account the foundation works and the materials used in them.
As for the main features of this update, Al-Dhahabi referred to taking into account the seismic map at the level of the Egyptian governorates, the places that are subject to earthquake activity, and the impact of various other factors, and thus circulating this update to the official authorities to adhere to it during building and construction work.
He added, “During recent years, earthquakes have increased and are likely to continue to increase, and this is one of the foundations that will be included in the new code, and the matter is not only related to the size of the ground concrete, or defining certain roles, but rather the strength of the building itself to withstand the earthquakes.”
In general, the Egyptian official believes that it is possible for all countries in the Middle East to review their construction techniques and codes after the huge losses suffered by Turkey and Russia and the collapse of thousands of buildings.
The current building codes began in Egypt since 2003, then they were updated again in 2012, then revised now, and it is expected to be issued in its final form by the end of this year, with the participation of a number of Egyptian specialists and scholars locally and internationally, according to Al-Dhahabi.
For his part, Sakhr al-Nusour, a Jordanian expert specializing in earth sciences and geology, said in statements to Sky News Arabia that one of the lessons that must be learned after this large and devastating earthquake is to reconsider building rules in seismically active areas to mitigate losses.
Al-Nusour pointed out a number of procedures and priorities, including:
- Building codes in these areas must be taken into account in order to reduce the severity of losses, and this is known in construction engineering in terms of designing foundations that are flexible so that they are resistant in one way or another to earthquakes in order to withstand earthquakes.
- Focusing primarily on large and vital facilities such as hospitals, civil defense, ambulance and rescue centers, and thus starting them as official and governmental facilities in most countries that may be exposed in some areas to seismic activity, as is the case in Japan.
- Japan has some of the world’s most resilient buildings that can withstand earthquakes, due to their ability to “wobble” when the ground shakes beneath them.
Jin Sato, a structural engineer and assistant professor at the University of Tokyo, says that for a building to withstand the massive forces of earthquakes, it has to absorb as much seismic energy as possible.
Building techniques in Japan depend on what is called “seismic isolation”, where construction works are placed on racks or surfaces that can withstand or absorb shocks.
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