Iran, UN agencies launch first regional seismic risk reduction centre

( UN ) - Three and half years after a massive earthquake killed more than 26,000 people in the ancient city of Bam, Iran, a regional centre to reduce the damage from such seismic threats was launched in the country today by the Government and the United Nations unit focussed on disaster mitigation.

According to the UN Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), which has signed a memorandum of understanding for cooperation with the Iranian Government, the Asian Centre on Seismic Risk Reduction will build awareness and provide training in order to improve construction urban planning standards, develop appropriate early warning systems and enhance disaster management and encourage a "culture of safety."

Through these efforts, it will encourage regional and inter-regional networking and partnerships to reduce seismic damage, the UNISDR said. It will also assist States to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action, a 10 year plan approved in Kobe, Japan by 168 Governments in 2005 to make nations and communities more resilient to disasters.

"Although earthquakes can not be prevented, negative impacts of earthquake can be minimized by reducing risks and vulnerability through effective use of expertise and information technology," said Salvano Briceсo, Director of the UN/ISDR Secretariat.

"The region has a lot of knowledge and experience in seismic risk assessment that can be shared and can contribute to reduce the vulnerabilities of many populations," he added.

South, west and central Asia are among the most earthquake-prone regions in the world, according to UNISDR. Earthquakes are responsible for 73 per cent of the deaths and 51 per cent of the economic damages caused by all natural disasters in the region, which include floods, drought and landslides.

The launch of the Centre, to be established by the Government and supported by a consortium of international organizations, coincides with the Fifth International Conference on Seismology and Earthquake Engineering, which will take place in Tehran next week May.

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