Causes, impacts & management of eq and floods in pakistan
CAUSES, IMPACTS AND
EARTHQUAKES AND FLOODS IN
Muhammad Rizwan Riaz
Muhammad Asim Shoaib
National Conference on Causes, Impacts and
Management of Disasters
Disasters have an enormous and significant negative
impact on development of key sectors of economy like
agriculture, infrastructure, housing, health, and
education and above all the environment
They result in a serious social and economic set-back
to the sustainable development
Disasters also pose threat to increasing poverty and
resultantly backslide the national development targets
Pakistan has been through a number of major
earthquakes such as the earthquakes of Hunza 1974,
Muzaffarabad 2005, Ziarat 2008 and Dalbandin 2011.
Similarly, during recent years Pakistan has suffered
from major floods in July 2010 and August 2011.
Current study provides an overview of the causes and
impacts of major earthquakes and floods in Pakistan
since its creation.
Various management options and safety measures are
discussed to reduce the impact of these calamities.
Technical and impact details of major earthquakes and
floods in Pakistan since 1947, have been analyzed
Data have been collected from various authentic
reports about these hazards.
Data about various management options and safety
measures possible for these hazards have been
collected and applied as precautionary measures for
these calamities in Pakistan.
An earthquake is the vibration of the earth's surface that
follows a release of energy in the earth's crust.
This energy can be generated by
sudden dislocation of segments of the crust
by a volcanic eruption
by manmade explosions
Most destructive quakes, however, are caused by
dislocations of the crust.
The underground origin of an earthquake is called “focus”
The point on which an earthquake originates on the surface
is called “epicenter”
Causes of Earthquakes
The earth is believed to be divided into more than a
dozen plates, which are floating on the mantle. This
theory is called plate tectonics.
Earthquakes usually occur at places where two plates
meet, called faults.
When the pressure between two plates is too great for
them to be held in place. The underground rocks then
snap, sending shock waves out in all directions called
Many areas of Pakistan are susceptible to earthquakes
as it lies at the junction of Indian, Eurasian and
Arabian plate boundaries.
Saturday, October 08, 2005 at 08:52:37
Location Muzafferabad, AJK
Depth 26 km (16.2 miles)
105 km (65 miles) NE of ISLAMABAD,
Date/Time Saturday, December 28, 1974 at 5:11:43 PM
Location Hunza, Hazara and Swat Districts, KPK
Depth 33 km (20.5 miles)
100 miles (160km) North of ISLAMABAD,
One of the 10 Worst Disasters in the History of Pakistan
5,300 Dead (According to World Bank Report)
A total of 97,000 were left homeless
The main road leading into the area was blocked
for about 25 miles (40 km) by landslides and rock
Most of the destruction was centered around the
village of “Pattan” which was almost completely
87,000 Dead (According to World Bank
171,884 houses completely demolished
4 Million people homeless in 1,083 villages
of Azad Kashmir
In Kashmir, the districts of Muzaffarabad,
Bagh and Rawlakot were the most affected.
No deaths reported
About 200 mud houses, including some
government offices, were reported damaged
in Dalbandin area
Causes of Losses
These losses could have been reduced if proper consideration
would have been given to the seismic forces during the design of
structures in these areas.
For 2005 earthquake the post-earthquake studies reveal that
many structures including Margalla Tower, Islamabad were
designed without proper consideration of earthquake forces.
Many structures were constructed without proper foundations,
and the proper reinforcement details and lap splices were not
Many structures were overloaded beyond their design loads and
hence, could not sustain the earthquake.
Illiteracy of people, poverty and lack of awareness are the major
hurdles for proper design of structures and the use of good
quality materials in construction.
Implementation of seismic provisions-2007 of Building Code of
Pakistan, for design and construction of structures in Pakistan.
Increasing awareness among people about how to respond
during, and survive during and after an earthquake by arranging
Using higher factors of safety for hospitals, emergency centers,
school buildings and other such critical structures.
Introduction of Earthquake proof construction techniques in the
seismically active areas of Pakistan, which are being used in
Management Options (cont.)
Strengthening the existing structures which are vulnerable
to damage by earthquake using some suitable retrofitting
Strengthening of members by using some external materials
Reinforced Concrete Jacketing
Steel Plate Bonding and Jacketing
Steel section caging
CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) Bonding and Jacketing
Strengthening of wall intersections
Grouting with cement or epoxy
Management Options (cont.)
Strengthening of structures by adding new structural
elements such as
Strengthening by cross wall
Maximum damage is caused if earthquakes occur in densely
populated areas and at shallower depths.
The earthquakes of 2005 and 2011 are having nearly equal
magnitudes but the former caused havoc as it struck the densely
populated areas of Muzaffarabad and was having lesser depth
(26 km) while the later hit the sparsely populated areas of
Balochistan with greater depth (84km) and caused only minor
Similarly Hunza-1974 earthquake was having magnitude
significantly lesser than Dalbandin-2011 earthquake but because
of its lesser depth and the greater population density of affected
areas, it caused significantly greater damage.
The 2011 earthquake was a hazard while earthquake of 2005 was a
disaster. Hazards can become disaster if earthquake occur in
densely populated areas or with origin at shallower depth.
Flood is an overflow of water that submerges land
which is normally dry.
The European Union (EU) Floods Directive defines a
flood as a covering by water of land not normally
covered by water.
Since its creation, Pakistan has faced severe floods in
1950, 1956, 1957, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1988, 1992, 2010 and
2011. These floods affected the basins of the rivers in
Punjab and Sindh. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK),
Balochistan, FATA, Gilgit-Baltistan, AJK and some
areas of Punjab also, damages are caused mainly due to
flash floods in secondary and tertiary rivers including
from hill torrents.
Why Floods in Pakistan?
The Indus River is the lifeline of Pakistan. Without the
Indus and its tributaries, the land would have turned
into a barren desert long ago.
It runs generally south-westward the entire length of
Pakistan, about 2,900 km (1,800 mi), and empties into
the Arabian Sea.
The Indus and its tributaries provide water to two-
thirds of Pakistan. The principal tributaries of the
Indus are the Sutlej, Beas, Chenab, Ravi, and Jhelum
Flooding in rivers is generally caused by heavy
concentrated rainfall in the catchments during the
monsoon season, which is sometimes augmented by
The inadequate existing discharge capacity of some of
the important structures (Barrages and Rail or Road
Bridges) on Rivers Indus, Chenab and Ravi are another
major reason of flooding.
Damages caused by floods do not follow regular trend.
Recent floods of 2010 and 2011 have caused major
losses as compared to previous ones due to the large
magnitudes which is due to heavy concentrated
rainfall in the catchments.
Recent floods are seen as an indication of more intense
and frequent extreme events in the future.
It has been concluded that for Pakistan, its tectonic location and
concentrated rainfall of heavy monsoon season are the major
causes of earthquakes and floods respectively.
The impact of these calamities becomes severe because of the
illiteracy of people, poverty, non-consideration of proper seismic
forces in design and construction in earthquake susceptible
areas, inadequate discharge capacity of important hydraulic
structures, lesser number of reservoirs, improper regulatory
system to check the encroachment of village abadies in riverine
areas and inadequate flood forecasting and warning systems.
Earthquakes and floods in Pakistan have caused massive loss of
life and property for many times. The impact of these calamities
can be reduced by incorporating proper management options
and precautionary measures.
Based on the above mentioned facts and figures about
earthquakes and floods in Pakistan following
recommendations are given:
Seismic provisions of Building code of Pakistan should
be strictly implemented in the design and construction
of structures in the seismically active areas.
The earthquake vulnerable structures should be
strengthened by suitable retrofitting techniques.
Flood infrastructure should be monitored and necessary
maintenance should be carried out on the regular basis.
Flood forecasting system should be improved by
installing more gauge stations.
Seminars, workshops and training programs should be
arranged to increase the awareness of people regarding
For national and regional perspectives, sufficient hard
work is required to cater the impacts of these hazards.
“National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy”, National Disaster Management
Authority (NDMA), Ministry of Climate Change, Government of Pakistan, 2013.
Magsi, M. A., “A Report on Seismic Activities and Tsunami Numerical Modeling for
Pakistan”, JICA Training Course, Nagoya University, Japan, 2007.
Pakistan Engineering Council, Building Code of Pakistan, Seismic Provisions-2007.
“Annual Flood Report 2010” Federal Flood Commission, Ministry of Water & Power,