October 08, 2009 06:15 ET

Inadequate Engineering Claims Thousands of Lives in Indonesia

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - October 8, 2009) - As structural-earthquake engineers, we at Miyamoto International are compelled to say the tragedy that occurred last week in Padang, Indonesia, did not have to happen.

At the invitation of the Indonesian government, our team journeyed to Padang in 2007 for a reconnaissance mission immediately after the West Sumatra Earthquake to study the damage. Our assessment of the damaged buildings in the Padang area in 2007 unfortunately confirmed our expectations: Those particular building types and construction would not survive a major earthquake. Many of the Indonesian schools, hospitals, commercial and industrial buildings, and houses are constructed with unreinforced masonry and non-ductile, brittle concrete. These building types have been proven to be unstable and dangerous.

Similar construction killed more than 90,000 people in China during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake and caused more than US $140 billion in property damage. Last week, the fragility of similar brittle building types claimed thousands of lives and interrupted many more thousands of lives in Padang. These dangerous buildings are not exclusive to Padang and China: the fact is they exist throughout the world, including in many U.S. cities.

How can these recurring earthquake tragedies be prevented? Today, we have the technology and the knowledge to reduce the human, structural, and financial loss from such events. The construction details required to strengthen existing brittle buildings are often cost-effective and can be implemented with materials that are available locally.

Miyamoto International is currently working with the World Bank to design and implement massive Earthquake-Risk-Reduction Programs in Eastern European countries. Many of the same seismic strengthening methods would work for Indonesia, as well.

Employing earthquake engineering solutions will save many lives around the world. Our goal as professionals and as a society is to learn from our mistakes and implement preventive measures today to save lives tomorrow.

Miyamoto International is a leader in earthquake and structural engineering and consulting. Since our inception in 1946, our California based company has grown to include six offices along the United States West Coast, as well as in Istanbul and Tokyo. Our culture is deeply rooted in ensuring the safest possible communities for humanity. We provide expert consultations for governments and private sector organizations worldwide.

Contact Information

  • For more information, contact:
    Kit Miyamoto
    Jessica Stanton
    Miyamoto International Inc.
    700 South Flower Street
    Suite 1010
    Los Angeles, CA 90017
    Email Contact