11 October 2005
Earthquakes don't kill...
Behind the disturbing images currently on our TVs showing the aftermath of the earthquake in Pakistan lies an equally horrible truth which isn't getting much media attention—that most of the deaths could have been prevented.Earthquake experts have long asserted that earthquakes don't kill, buildings do. And buildings generally don't unless people have messed up.Although this has been a very significant earthquake, massively destructive because of its closeness to the surface of earth's crust, it would not have caused anything like the carnage had buildings been properly built in conformity with the building codes present in most countries. Bad engineering, non-existent quality control, inadequate government regulation and quite probably systemic corruption have led directly to the death of tens of thousands of innocent people, many of them children. Lack of capital may well be an issue, but the Pakistani government has no difficulty finding the money to play nuclear games or engage in pointless military conflict with India.Whilst the international community is rallying to provide much-needed assistance, I hope we're also willing to call a spade a spade, so that something positive can come of this disaster.