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June 27, 2022

Strong quake would affect 75 pc of Romanians; IGSU admits it lacks equipment

If Romania were to be hit by a major earthquake, three quarters of Romanians and critical infrastructure would be affected, with search and rescue equipment being absent or in low numbers, a General Inspectorate for Civil Contingencies (IGSU) report shows.

“Romania has high seismicity, centred on the Vrancea region, the Curvature Carpathians and less so in the country’s north-western and western regions. Relevant in this sense are the major earthquakes that took place in Romania and their consequences. We mention the 4 March 1977 earthquake, which killed 1,570 people, injured 11,300, left 35,000 families without shelter and destroyed or seriously damaged 32,900 homes,” reads the introduction to the chapter on natural hazards that can generate disasters in Romania, chapter included in the Strategy to Consolidate and Develop the General Inspectorate for Civil Contingencies (IGSU) 2016-2025, a report currently posted for public consultation on the Interior Ministry’s website.

IGSU specialists claim that taking into account the seismic activity in the Vrancea region, earthquake risks exist in Romania. The document shows that in case of a major earthquake three quarters of Romanians could be affected.

“The risk of a major earthquake is there, and the regions that could be affected by it are home to 75 percent of the Romanian population and host important elements of critical infrastructure,” the draft strategy reads.

According to IGSU analyses, rescuers are also vulnerable in case of earthquake and investment has to go into training but especially the procurement of special rescue equipment.

Under the heading “vulnerabilities,” the document points out that “the lack of stocks of materials and equipment needed to manage major emergency situations (earthquake for example)” has been identified within IGSU.

“The absence or presence in modest numbers of fire engines, special intervention equipment and equipment for specific missions: explosive ordnance disposal, CBRN defence, urban search and rescue, search and rescue at sea, sheltering, issuing notifications and alarms,” is another aspect listed under the heading “vulnerabilities.”

32 buildings housing fire departments are listed as being vulnerable to earthquakes.

IGSU specialists claim there is also the need to intensify prevention activities by educating the population.


 Magnitude 5.3 earthquake hit Romania on Saturday, no injured and major damages


A magnitude 5.3 earthquake occurred on the night of Friday to Saturday, at 2.11 a.m., in Romania’s Vrancea region, being felt in most of the country, in Bucharest and beyond Romania’s borders, according to the National Earth Physics Institute (INFP). Around 4 a.m., the Institute downgraded the earthquake from 5.6 to 5.3 on the Richter scale.

According to the INFP, the earthquake had a depth of 91.6 kilometres.

According to INFP’s preliminary estimates, the earthquake had a magnitude of 5.6 and a depth of 112 kilometres. INFP’s initial estimate was magnitude 6, downgraded to 5.6 and then 5.3.

The earthquake was felt in Bucharest and other parts of the country, such as Suceava and Craiova, but also in the Republic of Moldova, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and Greece.

A smaller-intensity aftershock occurred around half an hour later. A 2.48 a.m., a magnitude 2.7 aftershock occurred at a depth of 76 kilometres in Vrancea County, the INFP informed.

This was the largest earthquake since 22 November 2014, when an earthquake measuring 5.4 on the Richter scale occurred. The biggest earthquakes to hit Romania in the last 26 years were a 6.9 earthquake and a 6.4 aftershock on 30 May 1990, and a magnitude 6 earthquake on 24 October 2004.


Raed Arafat on the earthquake: “Fortunately the tally is nil”


The earthquake had a low impact from the standpoint of material damage and nobody was injured or seriously affected, Interior Ministry secretary of state Raed Arafat stated on Saturday morning.

“Fortunately, the tally is, from our point of view, nil. Small cases, such as the piece that fell at the palace in Iasi. But fortunately without injuring anyone,” Raed Arafat said.

He pointed out that Civil Contingencies Inspectorate (ISU) units were dispatched to verify the situation in Bucharest’s Old Town area but also in other areas, and the conclusion was that there was no damage and no injuries.

“In Romania, people, who are not prepared and don’t know how to react, are maybe the biggest vulnerability in case of an earthquake,” the Interior Ministry secretary of state said. “For example, we had a case in Iasi, a lady jumped out the window. Fortunately, she was at the ground floor. Panic should not exist, they should control the fear, because nobody can say they are not afraid in an earthquake, but they should control their reactions, because if you’re panicking you induce panic to others and you automatically react without thinking,” medical doctor Raed Arafat explained.


INFP Director: This earthquake had roughly the same mechanism as the 1990 one


The earthquake that occurred on the night of September 24 was “fairly significant magnitude-wise,” and had a fairly peculiar mechanism, with effects toward Romania’s northeast and east, indicating that the fault line broke in that direction. That is why it was felt pretty strongly on the ground in Barlad, Iasi, Vaslui, National Earth Physics Institute (INFP) Director Constantin Ionescu stated on Saturday morning for Digi24.

The Institute’s measurements show that in the Republic of Moldova the earthquake was stronger felt in the south, in the Leova-Giugiulesti area.

This earthquake had roughly the same mechanism as the second major earthquake of 1990, which measured 6.9, the specialist pointed out. It was however a deep earthquake and fairly significant magnitude-wise.

An aftershock may have occurred at 2.45 a.m. An earthquake measuring magnitude 2.7 occurred at a depth of 76 kilometres, but specialists are still analysing if the two are connected.

According to Constantin Ionescu, deep earthquakes do not have many aftershock, and in order to cause significant damage the earthquake would have had to be far stronger than the magnitude 5.3 one which occurred on the night of September 24.

It’s true that, unlike shallow earthquakes, which cause damage at lower magnitudes, deep earthquakes cause a far wider area of destruction provided they are strong enough, the specialist explained.


Daniel Vasile, ISU: People called to ask what to do


Bucharesters were scared by the earthquake which occurred on the night of Friday to Saturday. ISU Spokesperson Daniel Vasile stated that the “112” emergency contact number dispatch received multiple calls. The calls came particularly from elderly people. Not to report emergencies but to find out what they should do in case of earthquake.

“We received a few calls, redirected them to the firemen; they were not signalling the existence of emergency situations but were instead asking for advice and recommendations on how to react. The citizens were in their homes and didn’t know whether they should leave or stay inside, they didn’t know where to seek shelter. We have to sound the alarm, had this been a much more serious situation, generating damage too, the blocking of the phone lines would have been an issue, because the priority in these situations are the calls for major emergencies,” Vasile Said.


Firea calls on Bucharesters living in quake-vulnerable buildings to accept City Hall houses


Following the magnitude 5.3 earthquake that hit Romania on Saturday morning and was felt in Bucharest too, Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea called on Bucharesters who are living in earthquake-vulnerable buildings to accept the houses offered by the City Hall.

“I’m calling on those who are living in earthquake-vulnerable buildings to accept the houses placed at their disposal by the City Hall, in order to urgently start consolidated their homes. Current legislation does not allow us to evacuate these buildings, despite them being a danger for both their tenants and passers-by. I proposed the setting up of the Administration for the Consolidation of Buildings Vulnerable to Earthquakes, because I discovered at the City Hall a lack of coordination and involvement in relation to this issue. With the help of PSD and ALDE councillors, this structure will start operating as soon as possible. It’s regrettable that USB and PNL councillors did not understand the importance of this initiative and tried to block the project. And they did not offer an alternative solution either,” Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea stated on Saturday, Mediafax informs.

The mayor pointed out that the earthquake caused no damage in Bucharest.

“According to the information received and the verifications carried out on the ground by local policemen, so far no events caused by last night’s earthquake – fallen plaster, fallen billboards, broken electricity wires, fallen trees – were registered,” Firea added.


Saturday earthquake causes damage in Iasi


The earthquake was strongly felt in Iasi. Several ornaments fell from older buildings in the city. Likewise, six persons suffered panic attacks and called the “112” emergency number.

The earthquake has affected one of Iasi’s important heritage buildings – the Braunstein Palace located near Union Square. Built at the start of the 20th Century, the building has never been restored.

In recent years the Iasi City Hall sought ways to restore the building, including by tapping into European grants, with the costs being estimated at 20 million Euros. Saturday’s earthquake caused pieces of the façade to fall. The area was sealed off.

The City Hall has assessed 400 buildings in Iasi, finding 140 of them to be highly vulnerable to earthquakes. 60 of them are apartment buildings in which thousands of people live. The ambulance service responded to six cases of panic attacks.


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