Seismic Risk Assessment For David, Panama Released

Wednesday, October 03 2012 @ 02:10 PM UTC

Contributed by: Don Winner

A study on the seismic risk of the western city of David, Panama, presented today by the Government and the World Bank, found that 35% of homes are vulnerable to an earthquake, and recommended a series of measures to minimize the impact of a possible natural disaster in the area.

The results of the Technical Assistance Project were presented Wednesday by the Disaster Risk Management specialist from the World Bank (WB) for Latin America and the Caribbean, Fernando Ramírez.

The study, funded by grants from the World Bank and the Government of Spain, was developed by Panamanian government institutions, including the Ministry of Housing and the University of Panama, and with the technical assistance and advice of the World Bank.

The project involved the development of a "process applied to seismic risk modeling, which analyzed a portfolio of housing, schools and health centers" of David, said Ramirez.

"A loss estimate was done, with the probabilistic modeling technique, which computes a set of possible earthquakes", of different magnitudes, "and its consequences, and from there risk maps were prepared, which indicate different levels of loss in the city," said the specialist.

One of the results of the study in David is that 35% of the nearly 42,000 homes in the city do not have "masonry and confinement, ie they do not have the necessary columns and beams to support the walls."

"That 35% of housing is therefore the most vulnerable" to a natural disaster, Ramirez said, and he added that they also analyzed the structures of two dozen schools and a few hospitals that also showed different levels of vulnerability.

Among the recommendations contained in the report to minimize the impact of a possible natural disaster are "improving the characterization of some soils of the city because the seismic wave changes depending on the surface composition of the same."

It also calls for promoting "home improvement programs that encourages the owners themselves to improve them, and to offer technical advice to builders of popular projects."

It even proposes to "insure part of the portfolio of the vulnerable buildings to minimize the economic impact the government would face as the consequences of a catastrophe.

The technical study released Wednesday is part of a regional program that seeks to estimate the potential impact of catastrophic events in order to define public policies to mitigate risks.

The project has an estimated cost of about $120,000, provided by the World Bank and Spain through grant funds or donations, Ramirez said without giving further details. (Telemetro)

Editor's Comment: Translation - if a serious earthquake ever hits David, Panama, about 14,700 houses would all collapse at the same time. Buildings built in this area should be designed with enough structure (columns and beams) to ensure it will remain standing during the event, and not kill the occupants in a collapse. You might have to bulldoze the thing due to damage after the event, but in many cases properly engineered things are designed to safe your life in an emergency - like an airbag in a car - even though you're not likely to drive away after the accident takes place. When I build things I over spec, meaning build beyond what is required by law, regulations, or the math of weights and measures. Earthquakes are scary things, and I don't like them one bit.

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