Comparing the damages due to Kermanshah and Taiwan earthquakes, although with different magnitudes, can be very informative.
Although, in Kermanshah earthquake, most of the damages were due to worn-out buildings and noncompliance to building codes and standards during design and build phases, what came to focus was mostly the performance of Mehr buildings, mainly due to political reasons. Assessing the seismic performance of Mehr buildings shows that almost in all cases the structures and interior walls of the buildings were intact. On the other hand, all exterior walls and facades were destroyed. As a result, not only the buildings fell into disuse, but most of the road blockages, financial damages and lives lost were due to this problem.
It is well known that the quality of design and building of the Mehr buildings were quite low, but as mentioned before other technical factors should also be considered. Unfortunately building exterior walls and facades in all parts Iran is almost the same. Due to not enough codes and standards, lack of proper supervision, and involvement of unqualified builders, it is expected that even with a lower magnitude earthquake the results would be the same. This is extremely dangerous especially if the earthquake happens during peak traffic hours, as it will make it impossible for the rescue team to access those most in need. So, paying more attention to the design and build process and revising national building codes and standards to address seismic performance of non-structural components.
Assessing the seismic performance of buildings in Taiwan shows that although newly built buildings collapsed during the earthquake, exterior wall and facades were intact resulting in very low mortality (only two deaths) comparing to Kermanshah earthquake.
Earthquake is a natural phenomenon and what changes it to a disaster is neglecting quality design and build.
By: Mr. Masroor Vosooghi
(Pictures form entekhab.ir)