Photo : Collected
Bangladesh faces a heightened risk of earthquakes due to its geographical location. The seismic events, originating either within the country or in close proximity, have become increasingly commonplace. In September alone, three earthquakes rattled the country, preceded by two in August. Two of these seismic incidents were traced back to the Douky fault.
The seismic intensity in Bangladesh has been on the rise, with magnitudes typically ranging from 4 to 5. However, the recent occurrence of a magnitude 5.6 earthquake has triggered widespread panic. This earthquake, which struck just last Saturday, has instilled a heightened fear of seismic events across the country, including the capital, Dhaka.
In the current year alone, the country has experienced 11 small and medium earthquakes, raising concerns among experts about the possible for more extensive damage in the future. Although these earlier earthquakes caused minimal harm, the fear persists that larger-scale devastation may be imminent.
The first seismic event this year occurred on February 16 in the Sylhet region, with a magnitude of 3.9. Subsequent earthquakes were felt in Cox’s Bazar, Chattogram, Dhaka, and other areas, with magnitudes ranging from 4.1 to 5.5. The most recent quake, registering 5.6 in magnitude, struck various parts of the country, further emphasising the escalating seismic threat.
These tremors are not isolated incidents; rather, those serve as ominous indicators of the possible more devastative earthquakes. A study conducted by the Capital Development Authority (Rajuk) in March mentioned Dhaka’s earthquake vulnerability. Alarming statistics revealed that 865,000 buildings in Dhaka could collapse in the event of a 6.9-magnitude earthquake in Madhupur, Tangail, with casualties and injuries numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
The Bangladesh National Disaster Management Plan (2021-25) projects a grim picture of the possibility aftermath of a major earthquake. If such an event were to occur, over 60 million people could be affected, leading to widespread damage to buildings, infrastructure, and essential facilities. The plan underscores the urgent need for preparation and highlights the country’s vulnerability to seismic activities of larger magnitudes.
Experts caution that small and medium earthquakes may serve as precursors to more significant seismic events, citing the devastating example of a 6.8-magnitude earthquake in Morocco that claimed over 3,000 lives. Despite this looming threat, there is a palpable lack of preparedness, with no advance warning system in place. The imperative for immediate and comprehensive disaster preparedness measures is clear, as Bangladesh navigates its precarious position in the face of an increasingly seismic reality.