Because I was focused on other things and was in New York City yesterday, I missed the fact that Mozambique just had a big earthquake until late yesterday. I didn't get a chance to look into what the situation was until this morning, though I called my friiends last night to see whether the collective "we" were working on map help for this one. The results of my search were a pleasant surprise. Who knew that Mozambique had the toughest building codes in Africa? Hooray!
From the Chicago Tribune:
By Laurie Goering
Tribune foreign correspondent
Published February 24, 2006
MAPUTO, Mozambique -- When a major earthquake rocked central Mozambique early Thursday morning, a remarkable thing happened.
Only a couple of homes collapsed. Just two people died, one of a heart attack. No one needed to rush emergency aid to the area.
That's mainly because the magnitude 7.5 quake hit one of the most thinly populated regions of the country, near Espungabera, a town of fewer than 10,000 people near the Zimbabwean border. But two peculiarities of Mozambican history and culture also helped the nation come through its first earthquake in a century virtually unscathed.
In 1755, an enormous earthquake rocked Portugal, Mozambique's former colonial power, killing 60,000 to 90,000 people. In its aftermath, Portuguese authorities began insisting on tough safety codes for building construction, codes that eventually made their way to the country's colonies in Africa.
Today, more than 250 years after Lisbon's disaster, Mozambique, which has little history of tremors, retains some of the toughest building codes in southern Africa, rivaled only by South Africa, which has regular small quakes as a result of mining activity rather than tectonic movement.
(Once again, I learned about an earthquake through the Flickr photofeed in my sidebar: someone had posted a screen shot of the quake data.)
Here's the USGS data on the quake:
Date-Time Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 22:19:07 (UTC) = Coordinated Universal Time
Thursday, February 23, 2006 at 12:19:07 AM = local time at epicenter
Location 21.211°S, 33.439°E
Depth 11 km (6.8 miles) set by location program
Distances 215 km (135 miles) SW of Beira, Mozambique
230 km (145 miles) S of Chimoio, Mozambique
535 km (330 miles) N of MAPUTO, Mozambique
990 km (620 miles) NNE of Durban, South Africa
Location Uncertainty horizontal +/- 10.3 km (6.4 miles); depth fixed by location program
Parameters Nst=169, Nph=169, Dmin=859.2 km, Rmss=1.34 sec, Gp= 25°,
M-type=moment magnitude (Mw), Version=8
Source USGS NEIC (WDCS-D)
Event ID usjlca