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Romanian Academy hosts session to mark 40 years since the earthquake of 4 March 1977. Secretary of State Arafat on earthquake interventions: People expect us to be ready and work wonders

Interior Ministry (MAI) Secretary of State Raed Arafat said on Saturday that people expect the emergency systems to work “wonders” in case of an earthquake, however the head of the Department for Emergency Situations underscored that disasters are unpredictable and educating the population has an important role.

“The Emergency System is undergoing continuous preparation. People expect us to be ready and work wonders. Unfortunately, in disaster cases one cannot work wonders. As much as we prepare for disasters, disasters are unpredictable, we don’t know how they will be, we don’t know how they come up, when they come up and then we have a role – to prepare ourselves. (…) The 1977 earthquake had a major impact, an impact that resulted in the death and injury of a great number of people, in a country that had limited resources at that time and that had limited means to fight that phenomenon. 1,500 deceased, 11,300 injured, 35,000 homes affected,” Arafat said during a session of communications, organised by the Romanian Academy to mark 40 years since the earthquake of 4 March 1977.

The head of the Department for Emergency Situations underscored that, in the recent years, the authorities have also focused on educating the population in case of disasters.

An example in this sense is the manner in which it was acted in the fire at the Bamboo Club.

“We avoided a disaster at Bamboo because, after Colectiv, firefighters went and trained each club in Bucharest on how to evacuate and take people out of there, and those at Bamboo admitted that they had been trained by firemen to evacuate people in case of fire and that they acted according to the instructions. When the firefighters arrived, the people had already been evacuated from the danger area. This is what we must work on – preparation. (…) We believe that the first important factor in such disasters is individual. If the common man is prepared, if each one of us is prepared and knows how to behave in the first minutes, we can already save lives from that moment,” Arafat said.

Raed Arafat also said that he discussed with the Capital City Hall about a model hospital, too, that could function autonomously in case of earthquake.

“I have a discussion with the City Hall of the Municipality of Bucharest to create a model hospital, that should be ready to deal with an earthquake, not only as a building, but as functionality, because after the earthquake the hospital must provide assistance to those coming in and then the equipment must be functional, have energy supply, independent water supply, taking into account that the utilities will be interrupted for a certain interval in that time,” Arafat pointed out.

The Secretary of State enumerated the actions organised by the Department for Emergency Situations (DSU) and the Inspectorate General for Emergency Situations (IGSU) lately.

“Last year, we signed partnerships with the Red Cross, with various organisations, because we need them at time of disaster, but we need to establish in advance how we’ll work together. It is very difficult to establish during the disaster how you’ll collaborate with someone, especially if that someone hasn’t participated in due time in exercises, preparation and concepts. On the education side also, IGSU has launched a game for children for them to be aware of the risks and how to eliminate them. Through children we can also reach the adults. Moreover, alert drills were carried out nationwide. We had two drills, one of alert, which wasn’t planned, no one knew when it was going to be organised, only two persons; me and the Interior Minister at that time. The drill was triggered at night and we managed to alert and mobilise over 6,000 firefighters, over 500 ambulance doctors/nurses in two hours. Another drill was in November 2016, when we alerted teams nationwide,” Arafat also said, according to Agerpres.

The Romanian Academy on Saturday organised a session of communications on the topic “The integrated evaluation of natural risks of Romania – 40 years since the earthquake of 4 March 1977,” with the participation of some specialists, academicians and professors with the Technical University of Constructions of Bucharest, the Inspectorate General for Emergency Situations, the National Institute of Research-Development for Earth Physics, the University of Bucharest, the Romanian Academy’s Geography Institute, the “Ion Mincu” Architecture and Urban Planning University, the Academy of Technical Sciences of Romania.

During the event, the results of the RO-RISK project were presented – “The evaluation of the nationwide disaster risks,” carried out in the period March – December 2016, coordinated by the Inspectorate General for Emergency Situations and co-funded from the European Social Fund through the Administrative Capacity Operational Programme.

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