Drawing lessons from Haiti disaster? Chairman of the inter-ministerial steering committee for earthquake preparation Dr. Avi Shapira warned the Knesset on Tuesday that "a strong earthquake will definitely occur in Israel. He added, "A strong earthquake could also be as strong as the one which occurred in Haiti and possibly even stronger than that."
During a discussion at the Internal Affairs Committee following the recent disaster in the Caribbean country, Shapira stated, "Granted one can't predict them or their date, but we must accept that what will kill people is not an earthquake. What kills them is the building."
According to Dr. Shapira, "The killing will occur with the collapse of structures and that's already a man-made disaster. There's an ongoing failure in steady building which renders the structures deathtraps."
Shapira also noted, "The world has already proved that it knows how to build buildings which will not completely collapse in an earthquake but will only suffer damages."
He added, "The standard isn’t being implemented since there isn't sufficient enforcement and we must act as quickly as possible, at least to fortify public structures."
96,000 buildings could collapse
Yaakov Bar-Lavi from the Survey of Israel center said that out of 650,000 structures in the country, there are 96,000 residential buildings which are in great danger of collapsing in case of a massive earthquake.
The person in charge of building standardizing in the Interior Ministry said that they are disappointed of the failure of the national outline program to protect buildings from earthquakes and that the plan has been extended for an additional five years.
Another topic which was raised during the discussion was the problem of identifying bodies.
A ZAKA representative who recently returned from Haiti noted that Israel has no solution for the problem, which is mainly a halachic one seeing as it does not allow mass grave burials.
Committee chairman MK David Azoulay (Shas) called at the end of the session to qualify body identification reserves for a mass disaster case such as the one in Haiti.