The Sunday Review
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In West Java, a devastating earthquake reduced buildings to rubble. Indonesia Living in poorly constructed homes in one the most seismically active areas on the planet has been exposed once more.

Since Monday’s quake, survivors have been sleeping rough or in shelters away from homes vulnerable to collapse as aftershocks rattle buildings already compromised by the 5.9-magnitude quake that killed at least 271 people.

The shallow depth of the earthquake – just 10 kilometers (6 miles) – added to the pressure on structures across West Java, where more than a Millions of people were affected by very strong tremors according to the United States Geological Survey.

Visiting the site on Tuesday, Indonesian President Joko Widodo promised that damaged homes – more than 56,000 of them – would be rebuilt to be earthquake-resistant.

“The houses affected by this earthquake are required to use earthquake-resistant building standards by the Minister of Public Works and Public Housing,” He said. “These earthquakes happen every 20 years. So the houses should be earthquake-resistant.”

But it is not. a A developing nation in which 43% of the population lives in rural areas and is largely uninhabitable, earthquake-resistant housing remains a challenge. a huge challenge.

As of Thursday, more than 61,000 people were displaced, according to the National Agency for Disaster Management (BNPB) – and experts say the damage could have been mitigated by proper infrastructure.

Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 270 million people, sits along the Ring of Fire – a Band around the Pacific Ocean, where most active volcanoes are located. Most earthquakes occur as tectonic plates push towards each other, causing tremors.

Of the 271 people killed in Monday’s quake, at least 100 were children, many of whom were in school when the quake struck. A 6-year-old boy was pulled alive from the rubble of his home two days later, but many others weren’t so lucky.

The earthquake shook foundations of buildings, causing concrete structures to collapse and roofs cave in. Photos showed pieces of broken metal, timber, and bricks. Most of the people killed were crushed or trapped beneath debris, according to West Java’s governor, Ridwan Kamil. Others were killed in landslides.

Cleo Gaida Salaima stated that she was awoken by the earthquake and tried to call her mother in Cianjur in Cugenang, Cianjur. But when she didn’t answer, she decided she would drive to her home in Bandung on a motorbike.

The journey – about 65 kilometers (40 miles) – usually takes less than two hours. It took her 24 minutes to get there, as roads were blocked by landslides.

“All the houses were covered with dirt and mud,” She said that she was back with her family, who had survived the earthquake.

“We all cried with emotion and happiness,” She spoke. “Our whole family immediately ran out to save themselves. The earthquake was very strong.”

Indonesian search and rescue team evacuate the bodies from destroyed buildings in Cianjur Regency, West Java province, on November 22, 2022.

In IndonesiaDue to the country’s hot and humid climate, traditional houses were built from natural building materials such as timber, bamboo, and thatched grasses.

These homes were durable and sustainable, and could withstand an earthquake. However, the increased deforestation of timber and its high price led to people choosing other materials. a 2009 study on reconstruction after disasters Indonesia From The Architectural Science Association.

The study found that brick and concrete were becoming more popular, with a facade that appears modern but was actually poorly supported underneath.

These structures are also more susceptible to collapse due to poor reinforcement and concrete quality. a quake – while causing maximum injury owing to the weight of the materials, the report said.

A man stands near houses damaged after earthquake hit in Cianjur, West Java province, Indonesia, November 21, 2022.

Earthquake-resistant buildings are designed to protect buildings against collapse. They can either make buildings stronger or they can be built from scratch. them More flexible so they slide and slide rather than crumble above the shaking ground

This technology is being developed by architects for decades. Engineers also often adapt materials to local conditions.

Architect Martijn Schildkamp, founder and director of Smart Shelter Consultancy, said his company helped to build about 20 schools in earthquake-prone Pokhara, in Nepal’s central region, seven years before a major quake.

More than 8,000 people died in the 2015 earthquake. However, the schools were constructed using traditional techniques and materials from nature like rubble stone masonry and did not collapse.

“Our schools did not collapse,” He said. “They suffered just some cosmetic damage.”

He stated that while it is possible to build earthquake-resistant structures in advanced countries such as Japan, the knowledge, infrastructure, and money are easily available. However, this is more difficult for developing countries due to the high costs of such structures.

Nepalese people often build their homes with mud mortar. is Schildkamp described it as very brittle. “If it is completely unreinforced, there’s no extra strengthening in the building. This is what will collapse very easily,” He said.

Schildkamp’s team used cement mortar and inserted horizontal reinforcement poles into the structure to strengthen it, instead of vertical ones.

Building While regulations are necessary to prevent the spread of poorly constructed structures, there is not enough in certain countries. is Schildkamp stated that governments are required to enforce the rules.

“We need knowledge and strategy in these countries. And we need governments to make these building codes mandatory,” He said.

West Java is a land of hope is The fading of pulling in more people from the quake debris.

Residents are living in constant fear that the next disaster will cause them to lose their homes.

While President Widodo promised that the government would compensate homeowners of homes severely damaged, many Cianjur families lost their entire lives. They now have to rebuild.