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May 28, 2020

Myanmar launches National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan

Vice President U Henry Van Thio addresses the Launching Ceremony of National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan & Earthquake Forum in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA
Vice President U Henry Van Thio addresses the Launching Ceremony of National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan & Earthquake Forum in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: MNA

The launching ceremony of Myanmar’s National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan was held in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday with a forum attended by the union ministers, officials and natural disaster experts.
Vice President U Henry Van Thio, Chairman of the National Disaster Management Committee, attended the event held at Thingaha Hotel, and officially presented the National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan. He also said that the forum on earthquake hazards was aimed for preparedness of earthquake risks reduction and emergency responses as the earthquakes cannot be forecast like other natural disasters and the extent of damages will vary on the strength of earthquakes and vulnerability of the particular area.
In recent years, strong earthquakes rocked Tarlay in 2011, Thabeikkyin in 2012, Kalay in April and Chauk in August 2016. These earthquakes cost lives and destroyed temples and pagodas in ancient Bagan heritages.
This year, a 4.7 magnitude earthquake occurred with an epicenter 13 miles southeast of Mawlaik Township on 2 August, a 3.5 magnitude earthquake with an epicenter 9 miles northeast of Mohnyin Township and another earthquake with an epicenter 28 miles northeast of Sinbo Township. The Vice President also said the risks of earthquakes must be put on alert although earthquakes rarely happen unlike other natural disasters such as fires, floods and storms as the experts have forecast that Myanmar was more likely to suffer from earthquakes rather than from other natural disasters. He also advised the attendees of the forum to develop strategies and plans with preparedness measures, adopting laws and rules, launching public educative programmes and holding rehearsals. He also called for the participation of government departments, organizations, NGOs, social communities and the public.
The first meeting of National Disaster Management Committee on 15 May last year decided that the relevant ministers were to make preparedness plans, to draw earthquake response plans and standard operating procedures, so as to be able to respond promptly, to conduct educative talks on the risks of earthquakes, to conduct frequent drills, to do surveys in the areas for required preparations and to promote awareness about the unpredictable natural disasters.
Earthquake forums were held in Yangon in 2016 and 2017 with the participation of experts, the departments, civil organizations and interested persons to discuss preparedness measures for reduction of earthquake risks.
The final version of the National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan was created after holding workshops since 2017 to seek advice from relevant departments, organizations and union ministries.
U Henry Van Thio also suggested that the relevant departments, state and regional governments, UN and INGOs and local NGOs should study and implement the plan to prevent the loss of lives and obstacles for development of the country.
He also requested all the participants in the forum to exchange views and to identify advantages and disadvantages in skills and technologies for disaster management.
The National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan included procedures for preparedness measures, response, information management, resources and funds for rehabilitation. At the ceremony, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator ai Mr Knut Ostby made a speech.
A documentary video for adopting National Earthquake Preparedness and Response Plan was shown before taking documentary photos of the event which was attended by Union Ministers Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, Dr Pe Myint, U Thant Sin Maung, U Soe Win, U Han Zaw and Dr Win Myat Aye, Deputy Minister U Soe Aung, Member of Nay Pyi Taw Council, ministers from state and regional governments, permanent secretaries, directors-general, representatives from organizations of earthquake experts, UN, INGOs and NGOs, social communities, invited guests and officials.
The second session of the event comprised discussions by the Union Minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement Dr Win Myat Aye, Minister for Social Affairs U Naing Ngan Linn of the Yangon Region Government, departmental officials, and experts in natural disasters management. –MNA (Translated by Aung Khin)

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