Study finds stone-masonry houses earthquake-prone

A recent study found that Bhutanese houses built with stone slabs are more susceptible to earthquakes compared to mud-rammed and concrete buildings. The ongoing national earthquake safety assessment by the Department of Human Settlement checks for a house’s resistance to earthquakes with magnitudes ranging between 6.1 to 6.9.

If the country experiences an earthquake with a magnitude between 6.1 and 6.9, the stone-masonry buildings will not be safe according to the study.

The Department of Human Settlement say houses built with lighter materials like timber is safer than the ones built with heavier materials like stone.

Bishnu Pradhan, the officiating chief engineer of the Department of Human Settlement, Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport says they have made a guideline called the Earthquake-Resilient Stone Masonry Construction guideline. “We have provided nationwide training on the guidelines, and today, its implementation has been improved.”

The officiating chief engineer added that the guidelines have instructions for building houses that are safe against earthquakes. However, the guidelines cannot be made mandatory for all constructions in the country.

“The main issue in the rural parts of the country is difficulty in transporting raw materials, since the movement of heavy vehicles is not possible in all areas. Although, people want to build houses according to the guidelines, this barrier is an impediment,” he added.

The department is conducting site visits and monitoring the new constructions to ensure that the structures are earthquake resistant.

The department has assessed houses in 12 districts. Assessments in the remaining districts will end by August this year.

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