Federal office for civil protection focp

Federal office for civil protection focp

What are the hazards for the Swiss population? How could a large damage event in Switzerland run off concretely? What impact would this have on people, the environment, the economy and society in Switzerland?? And what can you do yourself to better protect yourself?

With the national hazard analysis of "Disasters and Emergencies Switzerland", the Federal Office for Civil Protection FOCP creates bases for precautionary planning and event preparation. In this framework, a reference scenario is defined for each hazard examined. The FOCP thus provides scientifically sound and broadly based answers to the questions posed at the beginning of this report. In the Alertswiss blog we will inform you regularly about the results of this hazard analysis.

We remember: A year ago, the world looked to Nepal with horror. Several major earthquakes shook the capital Kathmandu and the Himalayan region.

Kathmandu was hit by the quake by 1.5 meters to the south and lifted by one meter – this impressively illustrates the enormous energy released by earthquakes of this magnitude. They cause then also enormous damages. In Nepal, almost 9,000 people died, more than 22,000 were injured. In addition, many important cultural assets were destroyed or damaged.

What is it about?

earthquakes are caused by a sudden release of stress along fractures in the earth’s crust. In Switzerland, there are about 10 to 15 earthquakes per year that are strong enough to be felt by humans. We often hear about strong earthquakes only from afar, but in Switzerland, too, we have to reckon with severe earthquakes. Earthquakes are unpredictable: their location and strength cannot be predicted.

Event examples

Reference scenario: Possible sequence of events during a severe earthquake

The earthquake reference scenario assumes a tectonic earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 from. In terms of strength, it is thus in the range of the historic Basel earthquake of 1356 and the earthquakes of Kobe in 1995 and L’Aquila in 2009. The earthquake affects a heavily populated area in the midlands. In the main damage area, i.e. within a radius of about 25 km around the earthquake center, destructive to severe damage occurs. There are about 150,000 people in this area. The total damage area covers a radius of about 80 km; thus, medium to light damage occurs in large parts of Switzerland.

Immediately after the earthquake, the situation in the main damage area is characterized by chaos, lack of overview and self-rescues. Strong aftershocks as well as rain and low temperatures complicate rescue and emergency measures. It takes about four days until the situation becomes manageable for the command and emergency organizations in civil protection and the majority of the affected persons can at least be provided with emergency aid. Shortly after the earthquake, with the support of the authorities and civil protection organizations, technical operations are already working intensively on repairs to transport links, electricity and telecommunications infrastructure, water supply and sewage disposal systems. It will take about six months for normality to be slowly restored. Only after several years are the destroyed buildings and infrastructures completely rebuilt.

Reference scenario: Possible effects

In the event of an earthquake of this magnitude in a densely populated area, enormous damage to buildings and infrastructure occurs within a few minutes in the main damage area. The collapsing buildings in particular also cause a great deal of personal injury: around 3,500 fatalities and 6,000 seriously, 14,000 moderately and 30,000 slightly injured people must be expected. Included in these figures are persons with psychological traumas that occur after the acute event phase and have a long-term effect.

In the first days and weeks, about 500,000 people are in need of support, especially because they cannot return to their homes due to the damage that has not yet been clearly assessed and for fear of aftershocks. In the longer term, 150,000 people will need temporary shelter or food and drinking water at home. Including the costs for emergency forces, emergency shelters and care for those in need of assistance, the costs of direct damage to buildings, infrastructure and other assets add up to around 100 billion. Franconia.

Damage to chemical plants and sewage systems cause considerable environmental damage. Indirect consequences such as a lack of human and financial resources, a loss of confidence in the Swiss economy and a significant weakening of the Swiss franc lead to a longer lasting reduction in economic performance. The costs involved amount to 20 to 30 billion euros. Franks.

Risk assessment and comparison with other risks

The probability of a major earthquake occurring in Switzerland can be determined with relative scientific reliability. An earthquake of the magnitude described occurs in Switzerland about once in 1000 years. With a value of well over 100 billion. francs, the monetarized extent of damage is very high. Of the hazards studied in the context of Disasters and Emergencies Switzerland, the extent of damage is only comparable in the scenario of power shortages. The risk of a severe earthquake is thus one of the greatest risks Switzerland faces in the area of disasters and emergencies.

Precautions and behavioral instructions: What you can do?

Earthquakes are unpredictable: location and magnitude cannot be predicted; they occur with virtually no warning time. Therefore, it is of great importance that you know how you should behave in case of an incident:

  • Take cover (z.B. under a stable table) and protect the head.

It is equally important that you act correctly immediately after an earthquake:

  • If a building shows major damage: leave the building.
  • Check gas, water and electricity lines for damage and turn them off if suspected.
  • Be prepared for aftershocks.

After a severe earthquake with a large damage area, you may be on your own and your neighbors for several hours to days. Earthquakes can cause supply shortages in various areas; essentials such as water, food, medicine and electricity may not be available for several days.

Ready for all eventualities

Follow the recommendations on emergency supplies and emergency pharmacy as well as on preparations regarding emergency accommodation and emergency luggage in the Alertswiss emergency plan.

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