Earthquake: When The Earth Shook!


What is an Earthquake?

An earthquake may be defined as the sudden, violent shaking of the earth’s surface due to movement within the earth’s crust. 

Earthquakes usually cause severe damage. One of the deadliest earthquakes in India occurred in Gujarat on 26 January, 2001. Some of the horrifying effects of this earthquake were as follows:

  • Houses fell to the ground trapping everything and everyone inside. 
  • Furniture, clothes, pots, food and grains were all trapped and destroyed under the stone, mud and wood of the fallen houses. 
  • Many people were not able to run out of their homes in time and were buried under the falling buildings.
  • Livestock could not get out of their enclosures and were also trapped.
  • A large number of people died and an even larger number got injured. Hospitals had been damaged as well and doctors treated the injured with the help of people in the neighbourhood. 
  • At this point, the people were without food and shelter and had become quite helpless.

Earthquakes have a devastating effect on livelihood and people. How did Gujarat and its people recover from this?

  • Help arrived from the government and from people from around the country and the world.
  • Food, medicines, water and clothes were provided to the people.
  • Tents were used as temporary shelter. Living in a tent in the cold and harsh climate is very difficult but the people were out of options at that point.
  • Rebuilding of homes was initiated. Experts like architects and engineers were consulted to build homes that would be more sturdy against future earthquakes and natural calamities. 
  • The people of the village did not want to lose the natural charm of their rural community and so the villagers started building their homes using traditional clay and cow dung cakes. 
  • They whitewashed the walls and decorated the homes with intricate designs and small pieces of mirrors.

Therefore, at the time of disaster all the people in the community came together to help and support one another.

Activity 1 :

Think of a time when you or your family member was in trouble. Who came to your help and stood beside you? Make a list.

Protect Yourself

Although some places are more prone to earthquakes than others, an earthquake can strike anywhere at any time. Follow these instructions in case of an earthquake:

  • Run out of the house/building you are in and go to an open ground if available.
  • Stay away from tall buildings as there is a high risk of them falling.
  • Keep a first aid kit handy.
  • If you have to stay indoors, stay under a table and hold the legs tightly to protect yourself.

Activity 2:

Has an earthquake ever happened where you live? If so, find out details and write a report on it. Mention the ways in which the community recovered after the earthquake. 

Drought and Famine – A situation in which there is no rainfall and there is prolonged scarcity of water is known as a drought. In such cases crops die and there is a lack of food – this is known as a famine. In such situations people often starve to the death due to scarcity of food and water. 

Activity 3:

Make a list of the things you use everyday and need in order to live your life normally. What would you do if you had to give these things up? Discuss with a friend. 

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