US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena on Sunday stressed the need for building trained volunteers to tackle the aftermath of any possible catastrophic earthquake in the sprawling capital city.
“Dhaka is located near three active earthquake faults and it has historical evidence of earthquakes…if a large magnitude of earthquake hits Dhaka, there’ll be a catastrophe beyond comprehension,” he told a function in the capital yesterday morning.
He emphasized the importance of having volunteers to carry out rescue operations after any devastating natural disasters as the Armed Forces and Fire Service and Civil Defence in Bangladesh alone cannot respond to any earthquake havoc.
Armed Force Division of Bangladesh and US Army Pacific jointly organized the program, tilted ‘Disaster Response, Exercise and Exchange’ at Lakeshore Hotel.
Mozena said Bangladesh is now well-prepared to address natural disasters like cyclone and flood, but it has not yet achieved the capacity to address any earthquake havoc.
Citing an official estimate, the US envoy said some 72,000 buildings will collapse if a moderate to heavy tremor hits Dhaka city in addition to making cell phone operation system and landlines dysfunctional.
About the importance of trained volunteers, the US Ambassador said the recent Rana Plaza collapsed in Savar showed that untrained volunteers put people and rescuers at risk.
He said the Armed Force Division of Bangladesh and US Army Pacific are going to conduct a joint exercise to share knowledge and expertise to address natural disasters. “I do believe such exercise will prove to be beneficial.”
Mozena assured Bangladesh of providing US support for its earthquake preparedness program.
Principal Staff Officer Lt General Abu Belal Mohammad Shafiul Haque and Lt Col Emdadul Haque also spoke at the function.