KATHMANDU: Preparations are afoot to mark the National Earthquake Safety Day 2010 on January 16 which coincides with the 76th anniversary of the last deadly earthquake that rocked Nepal in 1934, killing more than 4,500 people.

Going by the history, Nepal has been passing through major earthquakes in the hiatus of every 80-100 years. The survivors still recall the trauma of the 1934 quake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale, which knocked down several buildings in the Kathmandu Valley. The last one to strike in 1990 was of a slightly smaller magnitude, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, which killed 721 people. However, it was only in 1999 that Nepal started

to observe the day. The theme for

this year runs: “Let’s reduce the earthquake risk, enhance the safety of

community, and build safer schools, hospitals and houses.”

A Publicity Sub-Committee, led by Ashok Nath Uprety, Director General, Department of Urban Development and Building Construction, has also been formed, to mark the day.

“We’ll review and analyse the earlier commitments the government had made in international fora and prepare a national roadmap for earthquake risk reduction,” Uprety said. A meeting of the Earthquake Safety National Committee was held recently under the chairmanship of Bhim Rawal, Minister for Home Affairs.

“We’re living under constant threat of major earthquakes,” said Uprety.

Experts have said Nepal sits above the tectonic plate and is vulnerable to quake. The Kathmandu Valley is said

to be even more vulnerable given the haphazard construction, often

without the building code and the dense population.

“Earthquake is both inevitable and unpredictable. We can’t stop it from happening, but we can certainly prepare ourselves so as to minimise the damages,” Uprety added.