Anchorage (Alaska), Dec 8: A massive earthquake rocked the North American state of Alaska on November 30, leaving the infrastructure in disarray. Pictures of shaking rooms and torn apart roads made the Internet abuzz. However, despite the magnitude of the quake and the damage it inflicted, not a single life was lost and it was quite an achievement for the state.
But how could Alaska make it possible is a question which is making the rounds.
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There were reasons like the epicentre of the quake was 25 to 30 miles below the surface of the earth which means much of the energy was released before it reached the edge. But that is not the only reason why no big building collapsed or no bridge caved in. Alaska’s planning also made it possible.
As the state’s governor Bill Walker said after the disaster that “Building codes mean something”, Alaska focused on improving its building infrastructure to minimise the risk of such disasters.
In 1964, the state experienced the worst earthquake in the history of the US and the second worst in the history of the world which was of 9.2 magnitude. The quake left over 100 people dead, including 12 in California, because of a tsunami.
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Following that disaster, Alaska put in a comprehensive effort to deal with earthquake effects in the times to come. Building codes were revamped and rebuilding efforts took into consideration zones that were more risk-prone. “The 1964 disaster demonstrated the importance of considering earthquake effects in urban planning and development, said William Leith, senior science advisor for earthquake and geologic hazards at the US Geological Survey while testifying to the Congress in 2014.
California, a more populated state on the other hand, however, didn’t show urgency like Alaska and has paid the prices even in quakes of lesser magnitude.