It was 35 years ago yesterday when Romania was shaken by a 7.4 Richter scale earthquake, with the southern part of the country hit hardest. Also yesterday, a Grade 3 quake on the Richter scale was registered 145 km deep underground in Vrancea area.The 1977 earthquake lasted 55 seconds and was one of the most powerful natural phenomena that hit Romania in the last century in terms of human losses. It also ranked four in the top ten strongest natural disasters in Romania of the past 200 years. Zimnicea was the town hardest hit in the County of Teleorman, with the jolt reducing 89 pc of the town to rubble. Puzzling as it looks, consequent demolitions inflicted even more serious damage than the tremor did. The earthquake death toll across Romania amounted to 1,578 dead, of whom 1,424 in Bucharest alone, 11,300 people injured and 35,000 dwellings destroyed.
In a media release yesterday, Nicusor Dan, president of the “Save Bucharest” Organisation and a candidate for mayor of Bucharest, put at 26 the number of buildings consolidated after the earthquake in 1977, a minuscule number considering the nearly 2000 buildings in need of post-quake consolidation, many of them multi-storey buildings. Bucharest has no such thing as a seismic risk map, Nicusor says, In its turn, the Bucharest Inspectorate for Emergency Situations (ISU) assured it makes two earthquake drill preparations each year using modern intervention techniques. In his turn, Prof. Ghe. Marmureanu, honorific president, Institute of Earth Physics (INFP) told Mediafax that the quake 35 years ago caught the INFP experts by surprise, given they lacked the necessary alert equipment and did not expect a 7.2 Richter scale tremor. Now, the INFP can register an earthquake 30 seconds before it strikes, and risk installations turn off automatically.