March 8, 2023

Seismic Problems (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

We watched with deep pain the earthquakes that occurred in Turkey and Syria. Every earthquake creates problems, causes pain, but this earthquake, which had a large extent and intensity, created many problems for us.

From what was written about these earthquakes in the newspapers, I singled out what the "leading seismologist" Euthymis Lekkas said, from what he himself experienced during his seven-day stay with the Greek mission at the site of the disaster, and what he told the journalist Katerina Rovva (NEA, 2/13/2023).

Euthymis Lekkas is President of the Earthquake Protection Organization and Professor of Geology at the National Kapodistrian University of Athens.

It is said that, when they arrived there, they were faced with enormous difficulties. The earthquake found the people "sleeping, as it happened at 3 in the morning. The dead we found were in their beds, they had not had time to react. The collapse of the buildings happened within a few seconds."

This is a horrible thing to behold. The images that came to us showed how some were rescued, came out alive, but finding dead people in beds is horrible. The most horrible thing is that people remained alive for a short or long time in small spaces, in the dark, in the cold, without water, and most of them died in such horrible situations.

Another interesting impression of his is about the condition of the buildings. He said that in Turkey "there is a very flexible anti-earthquake regulation, which is not well thought out and is very often violated, while the violators get amnesty instead of being penalized."

Thus, he observes that "the quality of the infrastructure was very low, the materials were poor, as well as the design of the constructions with formats that work at the expense of their static adequacy. That's why they collapsed so easily and many became a pile."

Everyone talks about the magnitude of the earthquake or turns against God because of the earthquake, but they overlook that the negligence of the State and the engineers who exploit people and make cheap and illegal constructions are responsible for the results of the earthquake.

From what the Professor said, he also showed the ethical dilemmas of the planners and rescuers. The most difficult part of the mission, as he said, was choosing where the rescue would take place. He said:

"The choice is based on where you have more chances of success, where it will take less time, if there is a small child below or an elderly person, if the specific point is dangerous for the rescuers;" this "is a decision of the moment, without emotions, in such a unique environment, with clear reasonable criteria."

They are indeed terrible problems an earthquake scientist encounters, showing the entirety of the problems that earthquakes create.

Let us ask God to protect us from earthquakes, but also to demand from the State and the engineers to construct durable buildings. Let us not turn away from God for our own mistakes and our own culpable omissions.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

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