“A review is necessary in Spain to avoid disasters like the earthquake in Morocco”

More than 2,900 people have died in the earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale that struck central Morocco on Friday. This emerges from a new official list of victims published by the Moroccan Interior Ministry on Tuesday. Specifically, the government has already documented 2,901 deaths and the number of injuries is 5,530. The expert Sigfrido Herráez, dean of the Madrid School of Architecture (COAM), analyzes for LA RAZÓN the possibility of an earthquake in Spain similar to the one in the High Atlas.

Could it suffer an earthquake of the same magnitude as Morocco?

We are in a seismic risk zone similar to North Africa. The area of ​​greatest seismic hazard lies in the regions closest to the boundary between the Eurasian and African tectonic plates. These areas correspond to the southeast of the Iberian Peninsula, particularly the areas of Granada and Murcia. The greatest risk is on the line running from the Strait of Gibraltar to Marrakesh.

Will Spanish regulations be updated to prevent the damage that we would experience in Morocco in the event of an earthquake?

After the Lorca earthquake in 2011, a review of earthquake protection measures began to update the current regulations from 2002. Review is necessary, but it is worth remembering that we already have standards that we adhere to.

Which buildings in Spain would be seriously damaged by an earthquake of this magnitude?

70% of buildings built before 1970 would collapse. But that doesn’t depend on the regulations, as these buildings were already there before. There is a real risk to the built heritage we have. We saw it in Lorca, where an earthquake had a lower magnitude than in Morocco, where the houses and buildings most affected were the oldest. In the Córdoba region, for example, most houses with old structures could collapse in a magnitude 6.9 earthquake like the one in Morocco. Concrete and stone houses would break if the orientation changed (stone is not elastic) and mud houses would collapse.

What is the aim of this regulation pending approval?

The aim of this new regulation is to oversize the structures and make them elastic so that seismic movements do not cause a building to collapse in the event of an earthquake. This is something that has long been practiced in countries like Japan and Mexico. What is urgently needed is that it be done.

Are they prepared for a tragedy of this magnitude in Morocco?

From what we see, it doesn’t seem so. Morocco does not have the emergency resources that we have in Spain or France, nor the trained staff like EMU capable of acting quickly. Morocco has already suffered from the consequences of devastating earthquakes in the past. It is therefore important that governments are well prepared.

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