While the city experienced a series of tremors on Tuesday, many admitted to not being abreast of a proper mechanism if an earthquake of higher magnitude hits
While some experienced mild tremors in the early hours of Tuesday, some slept peacefully, unaware of any seismic disturbance. Residents from different parts of the city had mixed reactions about the series of 12 tremors that the Capital experienced.
State of panic
Most, however, expressed their fear of a potential situation where an earthquake of a higher magnitude hits the Capital. They admitted to not being abreast of a proper response mechanism.
Sharing her experience on the tremors, Malaviya Nagar resident Priya said she was woken up by a loud noise and saw things in her house shaking. “Stepping out of my third floor house appeared to be the best possible solution at that time,’’ she noted.
Some including Alok, who lives in East Delhi, said though he was aware of the steps to be taken in such situations, the sudden tremors left him perplexed and he even considered jumping out of the window.
Shocked and perplexed
“I have read about the measures such as getting under a table or the kitchen slab and waiting until the tremor stops but with so little time to act, the only solution in a state of panic was to get to the open area right outside my house and the window was the best possible route,” he said.
Others also shared Alok’s confusion on how to react in such a situation.
For instance, Sonia Agrawal, who lives in West Patel Nagar, said: “When I felt the first two tremors, I realised the ground was shaking but as the third started, I saw the ceiling shaking as well. It looked as if it would cave in on me and it was then I ran towards the door. There were no alerts on TV or any civic agency.”
In case of an “actual earthquake”, the order of respondents usually is the local administration, including the police and the civic agency, followed by the Delhi Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and then national agencies such as the National Disaster Response Force if they are asked to.
On the preparedness of the Delhi Police to deal with such situations, a senior police officer said while they had no dedicated unit for disaster response, their personnel receive some amount of basic training. He said drills are organised at regular intervals for periodic assessments.
“We also have proper and regular coordination with the DDMA teams in each district and in case such an untoward situation arises, the staff at the police stations work in tandem with the Authority,” he said.
The officer who has served in Andaman and Nicobar Islands earlier added that due to a higher frequency of earthquakes in the island, the police stations there have proper equipment needed to carry out relief measures. In Delhi, however, there are no such arrangements in place.
According to a fire department official, while earthquake is a disaster whose prevention is impossible, they have taken several initiatives to ensure that people manage to survive such mishaps.
A dedicated cell
“We have a dedicated army of rescue responders and specialised vehicles, which are capable of performing all kinds of search and rescue operations, ranging from cutting to lifting and even locating those trapped. Some of our personnel have received proper training abroad and we plan to undertake more such steps for capacity building,” he said.
The official added the Delhi Fire Services has identified a number of schools and underground structures (including metro stations) where survivors of earthquakes would be made to stay after being rescued.