Three earthquake engineers from a Northern California company are working in Nepal to assess damage from the 7.8 magnitude quake.
Miyamoto International is based in West Sacramento. The structural engineering company responds to disasters through its nonprofit organization, Miyamoto Global Disaster Relief.
Miyamoto International CEO Kit Miyamoto said he and two employees, Sandeep Shah of Miyamoto India and Jitendra Bothara, a Nepalese engineer from Miyamoto New Zealand, are inspecting damage in Nepal.
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"We are here to provide technical assistance to the Nepal government, international agencies and the private sector," said Miyamoto, via phone from Kathmandu early Wednesday morning. "Safety and damage assessment of structures and buildings is important after the earthquake."
Kit Miyamoto, CEO of Miyamoto International, based in West Sacramento, in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. He is now in Kathmandu, Nepal to assess earthquake damage. Miyamoto International / Photo
In its first days in Nepal, the team will assist public and international agencies and the private sector in safety and damage assessment.
Miyamoto said the recovery phase will start quickly.
“As structural engineers, we have the responsibility to assist in these disasters,” he said. “We know how to assess whether buildings are safe or not. This type of information is especially important right after of a major earthquake.”
After structures are inspected, each building will get a colored "tag" based on its condition.
Miyamoto said the red, yellow and green tags alert people to the danger or safety of a structure.
Aftershocks bring danger and risks
The work is not without hazard, as aftershocks can put the team at risk.
"Aftershocks are a serious issue, with 10,000 or more expected," said Miyamoto. "Aftershocks also can cause much more damage than the initial earthquake."
Sandeep Shah (left) and Jitendra Bothara are among a group of three people from Miyamoto International now assessing damage to buildings in Nepal. Miyamoto and his team have responded to major earthquakes in Haiti, New Zealand and Japan in recent years.
He said significant work remains in Nepal and the surrounding countries of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh to bring buildings to international seismic standards.
“These countries have huge inventories of existing buildings and infrastructure that were constructed with little-to-no seismic consideration,” said Miyamoto. "We knew a large earthquake was likely in Nepal and it would cause widespread damage. But there are [construction methods] that could prevent and reduce the risks of damage to buildings from earthquakes. We know how to prevent and reduce those risks."
Miyamoto said prevention is not just an issue in Nepal, but also in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
He said the "private sector and public sector need to act on that ... we still have a long way to go in California."
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