BEIRUT: Construction and public safety experts say Lebanon is exposed to 600 minor tremors annually, and that a large number of buildings are old, lacking maintenance and at risk of collapse in the event of a strong earthquake.
“Lebanon witnesses 600 mild tremors measuring 3 degrees or less on the Richter scale annually and we have statistics showing that 80 percent of the buildings are between 60 and 70 years old and have not undergone any maintenance work since construction and thus would not sustain a strong tremor,” the head of Building Safety Network Yousef Azzam told a news conference Wednesday.
Azzam pointed out that on a scale of three in terms of earthquake risks Lebanon is located in “Zone Two” in the world.
“It means that there is a possibility of having earthquakes with a magnitude of 6 or 7 degrees in Lebanon which would cause the collapse of buildings and inflict lots of casualties and damage,” he said, noting that the majority of Lebanon’s population reside in old poorly-maintained buildings.
Azzam called for stronger quality control on new constructions by municipalities and the syndicate of engineers to ensure proper adherence to safety specifications.
The head of the Youth Association for Safety Awareness (YAZA) Ziad Akel told the same conference that some 16,260 buildings are at high risk of total collapse in the case of a strong tremor.
“Unfortunately, the notion of maintenance does not exist in Lebanon,” Akel said. “In developed countries an annual verification of building safety is conducted, while in Lebanon there is no proper control on road, and buildings during construction or afterwards,” he added.
Lebanon witnessed a spate of mild tremors last week which raised concern about the country’s unpreparedness to deal with a such natural events.