Romania has high exposure to seismic activity, but many of its urban structures are incapable of withstanding a powerful earthquake. With the help of the World Bank, authorities hope to address the problem before catastrophe strikes.It seems to me they are a little bit late with this plan but any time is better than never, I guess. But the article boggled my mind.
From the Southeast European Times
The Times goes on to write:
Between 1992 and 2000, more than 3,400 buildings across Romania were examined by construction experts, evaluating their readiness to withstand earthquakes. The experts placed 578 buildings in the highest category of seismic risk, meaning that they could collapse in a quake measuring more than 6.0 on the Richter scale.This number comes a little bit as a surprise to me. 578? Not only in Bucharest but in all of Romania? That seems like a very low number. Also, the predicitions are for a quake of close to 7.0 or above before the year 2006, according to Gheorghe Marmureanu, the director of the national seismological institute. But wait, there is more:
Most of the high-risk buildings are apartment blocks, while some are home to restaurants, theatres and stores. Furthermore, no fewer than 67 hospitals in 55 cities -- among them, three out of the four emergency hospitals in Bucharest -- are on the list. That leaves many wondering where the victims would be treated in case of a major catastrophe.The buildings most risk-prone are marked with a red circle, and it is believed that as many as 17,000 people inhabit such houses. The efforts to reinforce the structural integrity of these buildings is noble, and needed. The World Bank is giving a 155 million dollar loan to Romania to do the necessary upgrading. Since it's a loan, Romania expects the owners of the buildings to chip in. Here's where things get tricky.
By law, the public budget can only provide support for families with a monthly income of under 165 euros. The others must pay their part over 25 years, in installments without interest. Many people are reluctant to pay, despite the constant danger they face.Hm. Maybe the owners don't actually live inside the endangered buildings themselves but are safely tucked away in houses without the ominous red circle? Just a thought.
For the past 13 years, the government has promised to take action. But so far only 26 high-risk buildings have been reinforced -- less than one out of 20. This year, authorities allocated the money necessary for another 47 consolidations, including 40 in downtown Bucharest. Work should start on the remaining 500 buildings by the end of next year, the government says.Hm. That would be 2006, right? Maybe they can just use the money to rebuild the rubble if the big one hits according to schedule. Ah, but that's just me being sarcastic, again. Surely things will work out all right.