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Readiness for reaction in case of strong earthquakes in Bulgaria is close to zero

Rescuers and local residents search for survivors at the site of a collapsed building in Elbistan, Kahramanmaras province, Turkey, February 7, 2023

Bulgaria has been able to quickly provide assistance to neighboring Turkey, which was hit by a disastrous earthquake. Aid has been delivered with three flights of "Spartan" aircraft. Civic society reacted by opening donation campaigns for the injured people in Turkey and Syria. Publisher Manol Peykov, who previously organized a large-scale campaign to donate electricity generators to Ukraine, managed to collect 150,000 euro for a day. The Bulgarian Red Cross, Lazar Radkov from "Caps for the Future", organisations such as "Gorata.bg" BCause, the National Children's Network, UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee working in Syria, and the World Food Programme are also conducting their own charitable initiatives. In addition, rescue teams and individual citizens left for Turkey - among them mountain rescuers with dogs, a team of 27 paramedics, cave rescuers and trained volunteers from Plovdiv and Sofia.

Dr. Elisaveta Gencheva, who experienced the tragedy of the people back in 1999 during the previous big earthquake in Turkey when she worked in the "Hygia" field hospital, is ready to help again. She approves of what has been done so far to help Bulgaria’s neighbor.

"It was quite right that Bulgaria organized sending teams of rescuers and volunteers to search for people under the rubble,” she told BNR. "Hopefully, they can find more people with the help of the trained dogs, of course. The teams of surgeons, traumatologists and psychologists are also very important, as traumas are not only physical but also mental. Therefore, the specialists who go there must be emotionally motivated and their sympathy must be seen in their work."

12 mountain rescuers from Bulgaria and 5 dogs are in Turkey and are participating in the rescue operations

Bulgarians show commendable empathy for other people's suffering and are thankful to God that the disaster missed them this time, but it is time someone told the truth about the state of the buildings in this country and our readiness to react in cases of disaster. "In Bulgaria, the readiness to react after strong earthquakes is equal to zero", construction engineer Dimitar Kumanov says.

"There are many gaps and compromises made with safety even in new buildings,” he told Nova TV. “As far as panel buildings are concerned, they were constructed to have very good seismic safety. The problem, however, is that they have been turned into Swiss cheese from drilling, reconstructions, repairs, removal of entire walls. Such actions have extremely harmful impact and at the moment no one can say what the seismic safety of panel buildings truly is.

Engineer Dimitar Kumanov recalls that the certification of the buildings for their safety should have already been completed. However, he doubts that all hospitals, for example, were inspected and have certificates. "In general, these checks are a complete scam - copy-pasting of text from some papers and changing the photo of the block" he says. According to him, no one has bothered to actually check what has been tampered with in the blocks, but a lot of money has been wasted.

In 2012 an earthquake in Bulgaria with a magnitude of 5.6-6 on the Richter scale was felt most strongly in the city of Pernik.

The specialist refuses to forecast what would happen in Bulgaria in the event of a high-magnitude earthquake, but points out: "If the state takes the necessary measures, thousands of human lives would be saved with little money. With some more money, many buildings would be saved, too.”

Compiled by: Diana Tsankova

English: Al. Markov

Photos: EPA/BGNES, FB/mountainrescueservice

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