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What lessons can be learned after disaster?

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2017-06-28 06:45

Editor's note: As of Tuesday, 10 people were confirmed dead, and 93 were still missing after a landslide engulfed Xinmo village in Maoxian county, Southwest China's Sichuan province, on Saturday. Can anything be done to prevent such natural disasters? And what can be done to improve the rescue efforts after a disaster happens? Three experts shared their views with China Daily's Zhang Zhouxiang:

Building ban in high-risk areas must be enforced

Zhang Jinde, a senior engineer at the China Institute of Geological Environment Monitoring / CHINA DAILY

It is impossible to prevent such landslides from happening, so we need to try to prevent or minimize the harm they cause. There are three steps that can be taken to achieve this: identifying inhabited zones on mountain slopes where there is a landslide risk, taking preventive measures to minimize damage that a landslide might cause and monitoring.

Monitoring should consist of remote monitoring with satellites, and on-site monitoring with geological devices. In practice, the latter is more reliable because it provides more detailed information about the geological structure of the mountain slope.

After the earthquake that hit Wenchuan in Sichuan province in 2008, the government sent many teams to monitor mountainous areas across the province. But landslides are still uncertain and unpredictable. All we can do is to collect the data and analyze the possibility of a landslide in the coming months.

But determining which areas are not inhabitable because of the risk of a landside is ultimately more important than monitoring. Since the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake, the government has issued many national standards on the issue, which define clearly the kinds of places where houses can be built and those areas where building is forbidden. These standards must be strictly observed to minimize the number of casualties in landslides and other natural disasters.

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