Velez-Malaga a seismic hot-spot

THE recent earthquake disaster in Japan seems far away, but there is a similar threat much closer to home, a study shows. Velez-Malaga was pin-pointed as one of the most dangerous seismic zones in Spain in a 2008 study carried out for the Andalucian Regional Government.

In a doomsday scenario, it has been predicted that 770 buildings would become uninhabitable, more than 5,000 people homeless, 2,800 injured and 260 killed.

The study included the evaluation of potential earthquake damage on urban areas and provided a basis for emergency planning and earthquake risk reduction policies.

It was predicted that the historic quarter in the northeast of the city would be hit the hardest.

While the town hall might survive the effects of an earthquake, Axarquia Hospital, built in 1983 with a high level of chemical additives and poor cement proportions, would not fare so well.

Neither would the local police or the fire stations.

While the more stable rocky soil types are found inside Velez-Malaga town, the soft alluvial soil of the Velez river is close to the urban area and landslides would be more likely in the northward of the town.

In the past six centuries more than 10 destructive historic earthquakes have occurred in the provinces of Granada, Malaga and Almeria, which are all close to the European-African plate interaction zone.

The largest historical event affecting Velez-Malaga city was the 1884 Andalucian Christmas Day earthquake, which was a 6.8 on the Richter magnitude scale and located about 15km away in Arenas del Rey (Granada).

By Nicole Hallett


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