SEPTEMBER 10, 2016, will remain significant for Kagera residents. On that particular date last year, a 5.9 Richter scale earthquake struck Kagera Region, killing 17 people while 400 others were injured. 2,072 buildings collapsed with 14,000 others developing major cracks.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO), of the Tanzania Geological Department (TGD), Professor Abdulkarim Mruma, disclosed that Arusha, Kagera, Mbeya and Kigoma regions were prone to earthquakes because they were situated along the Rift Valley.
Residents in the four regions should keep abreast with information released by experts from TGD from time to time. Normally, the earthquake never hits once with the possibility of hitting again the very same area after a couple of days-scientifically known as aftershocks.
Smaller earthquakes have since been reported in several areas. The latest tremor was recorded on July 30, this year measuring 4.7 magnitude at Kayanga township, in Karagwe District. The earthquake caused big damage prompting the government to take urgent intervention.
Among the damaged infrastructure included schools and dispensaries. About 353 schools in Kagera Region were badly damaged by the earthquake. 37 secondary schools were in Bukoba Rural district, 19 in Karagwe, two in Biharamulo, 13 in Kyerwa and 23 in Misenyi District.
President John Magufuli toured Kagera Region on January 1, this year to console the families affected by the earthquake. He directed TPDF engineers to ensure that con struction of the health centre at Kabyaile village, in Ishozi ward was completed quickly, also instructing officials under the Tanzania Building Agency (TBA), currently undertaking construction of Ihungo secondary school including three dormitories with 288 rooms, to ensure that the project was completed before the end of September, this year.
The Head of State announced that Omumwani secondary school, which was for merly owned by Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) wing-Wazazi, would be owned by the government.
The Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office in charge for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Youth and Elderly, Jennister Mhagama, reiterated the commitment of the Fifth Phase government under President Magufuli, to improve social services including health.
She made the remarks during handing over of a Health Centre at Kabyaile village, in Misenyi District. Until completion the project cost a total of 1.7bn/-. A task force comprising 96 field engineers from the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF) constructed the health centre after the dispensary was damaged by the earthquake which hit several areas in the region.
The Kagera Regional Administrative Secretary (RAS), Diwani Athuman, revealed that that the government allocated about 4.2bn/-for refurbishing the infrastructure at Nyakato secondary school, in Bukoba Municipality which was damaged by the earthquake.
He appealed to the Chief of the Tanzania Peoples’ Defence Forces (CDF), General Venance Mabeyo, to consider giving employment to 41 youths under the National Service who participated in the construction of Kabyaile health centre.
A representative from TPDF, Col Sylvester Ghuliku, handed the completed buildings to Mr Athumani, who also handed the project to the Deputy Misenyi District Development Director, James Matekele.
Col Ghuliku also handed two refurbished dormitories at Omumwani secondary school which cost 73.5m/- on completion. Head master for Omumwani secondary school, Laban Kansimba, disclosed that the school had a total of 522 students including 371 boys in Form Six and 151 others in Form Five.
The British government through its International Aid Agency (DFDA), donated 6.4bn/- to the Tanzania government for refurbishing the infrastructure at Ihungo secondary school and the aid money was channeled through the Prime Minister’s office.
According to Professor Mruma, earthquakes are the vibrations caused by rocks breaking under stress. The underground surface along which the rock breaks and moves is called a fault plane. The size or magnitude of earthquakes is determined by measuring the amplitude of the seismic waves recorded on a seismograph and the distance of the seismograph from the earthquake.
These are put into a formula which converts them to a magnitude, which is a measure of the energy released by the earthquake. For every unit increase in magnitude, there is roughly a thirty-fold increase in the energy released.
For instance, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake releases approximately 30 times more energy than a magnitude 5.0 earthquake, while a magnitude 7.0 earthquake releases approximately 900 times (30×30) more energy than a magnitude 5.0.
A magnitude 8.6 earthquake releases energy equivalent to about 10, 000 atomic bombs of the type developed in World War II. Fortunately, smaller earthquakes occur much more frequently than larger ones and most causes little or no damage.
Earthquake magnitude was traditionally measured on the Richter scale. It is often now calculated from seismic moment, which is proportional to the fault area multiplied by the average displacement on the fault.
The focus of an earthquake is the point where it originated within the Earth. The earthquake epicentre is the point on the Earth’s surface directly above the focus. Earthquakes have been recorded as early as 1177 B.C. in China.
Earthquakes have been a part of myth and legend since the dawn of man. In Greek Mythology, Poseidon (Neptune in the Roman pantheon) was “God of the Sea”. Yet one of his powers was thought to be that of “earth shaker”.
As a Tsunami is often the result of an earthquake, this was an appropriate power for a sea god. In European history, the earliest recorded earthquake occurred in 580 B.C. In North America the great earthquakes of 1811-1812 occurred near New Madrid, Missouri.
The magnitude of the quakes are not known, but they are estimated to have been about 8 on the Richter scale. There were actually three large quakes with aftershocks between and for months after. The quake was so wide-spread it was felt as far away as Boston.