Is Karachi prepared for an Earthquake?

A recent report published in AFP shares some serious concern about Karachi being a potential disaster spot for an earthquake. Though the faultline lies a little to our west but a major the major bustling city of Pakistan is seemingly ill prepared for such a disaster if it were to God Forbid strike

AFP: Seismologists say Karachi is as much at risk from earthquakes as Los Angeles. But unlike the sprawling US west coast city, or other supercities lying on or near faultlines, Pakistan’s business capital is ill-equipped to cope if disaster strikes, according to experts. “We are not realising the danger we are surrounded by.” Noman Ahmed, an architect associated with Karachi’s NED University of Engineering and Technology estimates that virtually all of the city’s 500,000 buildings are structurally unsound.

“Not more than five percent of our buildings are constructed by following the building rules. The rest are self-built by builders without taking any professional advice,” he added. “You can see negligible provisions for evacuation or accessibility in our buildings. There are no fire or hazard escapes in the majority of structures. Our firemen are brave but they are few in number,” said Masood Alam, chief of Karachi’s municipal services department. “We have just 50 fire tenders and 20 fire stations. We need much more professional staff, at least 365 fire tenders and 178 fire stations in Karachi.”

There are only 10,000 hospital beds and one doctor for every 1,500 people. “We are totally unprepared to cope with major disasters,” said Dr Shershah Syed, a former secretary general of Pakistan Medical Association

11 Comments so far

  1. mubashirkhan on November 18th, 2008 @ 9:11 pm

    @teeth Mistro…
    This is the first time ever I heard about any such fault line. After Some digging I could not find any such fault line that run across Pakistan as shown in you pic, As a matter of fact this is a picture from
    where some Indian "analyst" is doing his job to put Pakistan down.

    Please check facts before you spread the word.

  2. Teeth Maestro (kar_teeth) on November 18th, 2008 @ 9:20 pm

    @mubashir – I thank you for pointing out my mistake I ma just editing this post to remove the attached image – it was my mistake – many apologies

  3. tzaidi on November 18th, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

    @ mubashirkhan, good observation !!!

    In my opinion though the faultline information provided is somewhat incorrect, but Sind & Baluchistan area has been experiencing seismic activities in the past, if interested, you can get more information on .

    Another pattern, which one can realize by looking at the data available on abovementioned website, is that its not necessary that earth quake only jolts the area around fault lines, there are many instances where earthquake were recorded in areas far from fault lines / edges of tectonic plates.

  4. metro on November 18th, 2008 @ 10:10 pm
  5. Raza (raza) on November 19th, 2008 @ 9:37 am

    A scary scary thought. Well, look at it this way, one more reason why God should have mercy on Pakistan.

  6. ڈفرستان کا ڈفر (duffer) on November 19th, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

    @metro: shit propeganda

  7. amaymar on November 21st, 2008 @ 9:18 am

    There is definetaly a fault line under or near karachi. If you see a plate tectonic map of the world you will notice that we are sitting directly above the fault line between the Eurasian and Indo-australian plates. Also close is another, arabian plate that is moving as well. So yes we are in a seismic zone.

    for proper research see.

  8. motiwalarabia on November 26th, 2008 @ 7:03 am

    i my self have studied a bit of structural engineering at architecture school and the fact that they the teachers, always stressed on quality building..and quality products.
    but the fact remains that quality building can only take place when the client has enough money to buy good products, where as we as a nation, known better for "2 numbri kaam and milawat". there is a time period required for constructing each floor..and there are some ratios that need to be followed …with finanacial crisses all over the world the steel price has also gone high one ton available for rs 80,000(if am not wrong)

    I just feel that if we dont stop the comercializing building a building then we are just adding more danger to the building and most importantly the ppl who reside there.
    God forbid if the building comes down due to an earthquake then the person at fault is both the structural engineer and the architect.

  9. samanashirazi on November 26th, 2008 @ 7:40 am

    I agree with the above post, having studied architecture myself we are always reminded never to build for current times but for the future (20-20 years ahead). Architecture is not about pretty looking buildings, the problem with us these days are we are having cosmetic architecture these days buildings that looks good reminiscing with western style are attracting the local architects, when they propose a building the first thing they mention is how beautiful it will look, or its being the tallest. Unfortunately the functional and safety control aspects are looked upon and are mentioned at the very last minute. Therefore when it comes to functionality and efficiency they all are below requirements. It’s also about being honest to your own profession whether an architect or an engineer, both holds great responsibility. We are playing with the lives of innocent people; safety is the foremost thing for us later is the appearance and all that extra toppings. The fact that these buildings do not meet the seismic requirement is so distressing, you can’t blame one person for that as it involves a group of people you are educated enough about the risk being involved. And definitely materials being used are highly responsible in this case, especially in high rise area the importance of materials can’t be left unnoticed. Unfortunately the contractors are busy shoving money into their pockets that the materials poured and used at site are negligible for these individuals. And the result is 10-15 years down the lane if it’s not the earthquake, less reinforcement and carelessness can bring down the building.

  10. zehraalay on November 26th, 2008 @ 7:50 am

    Also we need good amount of supervision…we need our constructional engineers to be there on site at the time of when the concrete pouring is being done and we need to have a proper investigation team of engineers, who are only hired to make certain that the building is structurally sound.

    Now that we have so many flyovers in karachi, i dont know if all of these matters were taken into account but on the contrary it is essential to do so, specially for a city with a major fault line underpassing its surface.

    We already had a civilization that had undergone catastrophe, that which we have never known, I am talking about the disappearance of the Indus valley Civilization…what if an earthquake buried it ?!! :(

  11. motiwalarabia on November 26th, 2008 @ 8:41 am

    The above 2 posts sound valid infact I a completely agree with their thoughts. I would also like to add that its not just about concrete pouring its got more to it…
    The building needs to be designed well both in terms of architecture and structure.
    Now what has happen is that in order to mint money and commercialize the building project we tend to break some rules (the Karachi building codes)
    These building codes have clearly mentioned that in certain areas the builder cannot go above a certain level (floor). But in a city where you can easily block all roads and borrow a lot of electricity from the citizens of Karachi so that every thing goes alright at your organized wedding, then these BUILDING CODES seem no where.

    I just hope that since our builders and engineers in Karachi infact Pakistan are minting money, the citizens and ppl who buy the property don’t go down in the history books as the lost civilization.

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