YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Yerevan is located in highly active seismic risk zone–and several city reinforcement programs are currently under implementation–Head of the National Service of Seismic Protection Sergey Balasanian said December 7 during Armenian Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan’s visit to the NSSP.
Balasanian pointed out that urbanization raises the seismic risk and destruction caused by earthquakes. A number of countries have banded together to initiated an international seismic risk minimization program for major cities. Under the program the seismic risk will be estimated–and buildings will be reinforced in the seismically most dangerous areas. During the first meeting of the initiative group–10 of 74 cities were selected to be included in the program. Among them are Yerevan and Tehran–as both cities are in the same seismic zone.
Another program provides for the installation of a signaling system around Yerevan which would inform the population about seismic waves a few minutes before reaching the city.
Aside from the aforementioned program–the Armenian government has approved comprehensive seismic risk minimization programs for the next 30 years. The programs worth a total of $4 billion will be implemented throughout Armenia and will be financed by donor-organizations. Balasanian said that only 17-50 percent of the programs are possible to implement on the funds allocated from the state budget–the rest of the funds are allocated by international organizations in terms of gran’s. International organizations sponsor 5-10 programs annually. Balasanian said that this number is expected to double by the year 2000.
Balasanian pointed out that since the 1988 earthquake the most dangerous quakes occurred in May 1996 in the territory of Gyumri. There wasn’t a major earthquake–but rather about 200 minor shakes for a month and a half. And the strong shocks in Turkey and–as a result–slight oscillations in Iran–Georgia and Armenia in August were–according to S. Balasanian–predictable. He said that the seismic situation in the region remains active–"and it is natural as if there are no slight shocks–there will be no discharge–and we can be faced with a seismic event."