Rumour-mongering causes public to fear for worse

- Chahana Sigdel, Kathmandu
Rumour-mongering causes public to fear for worse

Apr 29, 2015-

The aftermath of the Great Quake has seen a series of “predictions” being made about the next earthquake, fuelling fear among the people who have only recently lived through such a traumatic ordeal.

This comes at a time when there are new rumours of large-scale aftershocks, fuelled by baseless information on social media, ‘self-proclaimed’ astrologers. However, experts say there is no way that the exact time or date for a specific aftershock can be predicted.

Ari Nathan, director at Regional Environment, Science, Technology and Health (ESTH) Office for South Asia, said there is only a 1 to 2 percent chance of an aftershock greater than Saturday’s earthquake. “These numbers may change in the coming days if there are more aftershocks. But there is no way to predict an exact time or date for a specific after shock,” Nathan told The Post.

 There is also enough literature to rebuff such rumours that give exact predictions. “Earthquakes are innately unpredictable, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Skittish birds and snakes are not a reliable indicator. No one knows why a small earthquake can keep breaking and turn into a 1906-style catastrophic rupture. Sometimes they stop, sometimes they keep going,” writes Joel Acenbach Washington Post’s science writer in a recent article after the Great Quake.  

Acenbach, who has been covering earthquakes summarises a conclusion written in a paper titled ‘Supershakes and Super Cycles’ “It is becoming increasingly clear that our short instrumental and historical records are inadequate to characterise the complex and multiscale seismic behaviour of subduction zones and other major fault systems.”

However, It is important to note that experts had been warning of a possible quake for decades now, after analysing Nepal’s track record and geography.  These predictions were a result of studies on Nepal’s seismic fault lines and topography. On a list of the world’s most vulnerable cities and Kathmandu has always been on top. However, none of the seismologists  were able to give the exact time and location, as many of these rumour-mongers seem to.

Published: 30-04-2015 09:26

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