Govt looking into the establishment of first ever professional search and rescue training center

On the search and rescue front, Lyonchhen (Dr) Lotay Tshering said that Department of Disaster Management has put up a proposal to the government to institute a formal team that is professionally developed and focused on infrastructural development.

The Department of Disaster Management in the proposal has also identified Chukha as the location for the training center.

Lyonchhen also said that the Department of Disaster Management has identified cost estimation for the foreign experts required to professionally provide human capacity development.

“However, we must understand that to mitigate a major natural disaster is something beyond our control. We can at the most have one core team; pass on the training knowledge to the rest and prepare mentally. I pray and hope that the country remains always safe from such natural disasters, however, should an earthquake or other natural disasters hit the country, there is no doubt we’ll be at a great loss.

Nonetheless, we should try our best and be prepared at all times. I also need to consider resource allocation for such programs seriously,” said Lyonchhen, who is also the Chairman of the Disaster Management Authority.

The question was raised in light of the recent seven-year-long study on Bhutan’s geodynamics that has come out with new findings that an earthquake of a magnitude 8.5 or more could hit Bhutan, and that the country is not as safe as it was earlier assumed.

I also told the disaster management team that we may not strive for a very advanced level training center at the moment, but will clearly have a strong national team first, said Lyonchhen.

“The example I cited was of the Bhutanese rescue team that never had formal training and left for Nepal when the country was hit by a massive earthquake several years back. Bhutanese team was one of the best teams I ever saw. So I found that resilience in preparation is mostly innate, so awareness and central coordination should be there.”

The research team in collaboration with the Department of Geology and Mines, MoEA found that although seismicity rate in Bhutan has been low over the decades, they have, however, discovered evidence that at least one earthquake of a magnitude 8 had actually occurred in Bhutan in the past that was much stronger than any recent events- corroborating some earlier studies forewarning that an earthquake of such magnitude can occur again.

Should an earthquake of magnitude 8.5 or more hit the region, the chief seismologist with the Department of Geology and Mines said that none of the regions in the country will be safe, however, the northern parts of the country might be less vulnerable to massive damages as compared to the other regions.

“An earthquake of magnitude 8 or more will not only devastate Bhutan but the entire region,” he said. The chief seismologist said that there is no one who can predict earthquakes; however, he said that the experts can only forecast the susceptibility of the regions based on an accurate geophysical characterization of each region

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