LAHORE - We cannot avoid earthquake because Pakistan lies on active seismic fault line both in the North and South but the only way to minimise death and destructions is to remodel our buildings by observing building codes and avoid double storeys, heavy steel and concrete structures keeping in view the earthquakes. This was stated by eminent geologists and experts in earthquake studies including Prof Dr Umar Farooq of Institutes of Geology, University of the Punjab while talking to The Nation on Thursday. Pakistan is on active seismic belt of the world and among 19 zones, seven are more vulnerable to earthquake. The most dangerous sites are Mekran, Quetta, Kashmir, Peshawar, Karachi, Gilgit and Chitral. Dr Umar Farooq said the earthquake return period is 70 to 100 years and if we count back to 1935 devastating earthquake of Quetta to date, we are approaching to return for a mighty earthquake in this region. The people have forgotten the 1935 earthquake which killed some 60,000 at a time when population was thin while the October 8, 2005 earthquake in Balakot killed one hundred thousand people in the recent history. Dr Farooq said, "We can protect ourselves only by following the building code and avoiding double storey construction and heavy steel and concrete structures. The people of Quetta and Balcohistan and elsewhere in Pakistan are not following the advice of engineers and architects and there was need to create awareness on building structure and hazards of heavy structure in the wake of earthquake. The building code and use of wood etc in the roof particularly in the active fault zones was essential. The multi-storey buildings be discouraged." Dr. Umar Farooq said our region lay on three plates i.e. Indian, Eurosean and Arabian. These plates are moving at a speed of 3 to 4 centimeter per year against each other. The Eurosean plate is moving southward while the Indian is moving northward. During 200 million years, they covered a distance of 6000 kilometer coming from Australia. In between is Tehyan Sea sediaments of which were sandwiched between the plates. The plates started closing Tehyan Sea moving towards each other. It started raising up and thus formed mighty Himalayan mountain from Burma to Kashmir stretched at 2900 kilometer. Kashmir is a place where we witnessed major earthquake in 2005. These mighty mountains fractured, folded and faulted because of movement of these plates toward each other. The energy kept on piling up along certain faults and some time suddenly released in the form of seismic raise which travelled from that point which is called focus and travel outwardly in all directions along the globe where these are recorded. On the surface, people feel these waves like jerks or jolts which we call earthquake. The deaths and destructions depend on duration and amount of energy released. Most important factor is casualties because of collapse of buildings that are not built as required in earthquake active zones. The Oct 8, 2005 earthquake is a major example of losses due to collapse of poorly and heavily structured buildings. Dr Umar Farooq expressed concern that multi-storey buildings had been constructed in Quetta which may cause still bigger losses due to increase and density in population. "We cannot avoid earthquake but we can adopt safety measures to minimise the losses by strictly adopting the precautionary measures." Another expert Dr Zahid Siddique of UET said that there was acute shortage of architects and engineers who could guide the people on scientific construction of buildings particularly in the earthquake active zones. There were only two engineers in NED, two in Peshawar and two in UET while we needed at least 8000 engineers and architects. Dr Umar Farooq said that Earth Quake Reconstruction Authority (ERRA) must have different cells other than the rehabilitation and reconstruction. These cells should include civil engineering, seismology and other related sciences and fields for a comprehensive approach towards meeting the challenges facing the country. He deplored that the government had closed down earthquake studies centre at the Punjab University due to political reasons. On his proposal the centre was set up which was the biggest after Japan in Asia to conduct research on earthquake. For the first time in history five batches were passed out with Masters in Seismology but it was closed down abruptly and merged into Institute of Geology. This is colossal loss to the seismological sciences while it was getting appreciation and truly it was need of the hour. Dr Umar Farooq said that both North and South of Pakistan in danger. The Karachi is more vulnerable. The Gwadar Port lies on the fault which can be seen at 30 kilometers on the surface. It is a potential threat. Pasni witnessed Tsunami killing 6000 in the past. Four active faults are passing through Karachi. The Eurosian, Indian and Arabian plates are in junction at 60 kilomerts away from Karachi which may pose a big threat to the city. Peshawar is also on active fault line. There are fault lines near Lahore, Hafizabad, Faisalabad which should be scientifically probed. In the year 2000, Bhoj earthquake in India killed two lakh people and it also jolted Pakistan, he concluded.