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Quake fatalities decline in 2006
Released: 1/10/2007 9:51:59 AM

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U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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Nearly 7,000 deaths resulted from earthquake activity worldwide in 2006, according to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and confirmed by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Most of the fatalities for the year, approximately 5,749, occurred when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Java, Indonesia on May 26.

The total number, 6604, falls far short of the death tolls for 2004 and 2005, which were 284,010 and 89,354, respectively. To see a complete list of number of seismic events from 2000 to 2006, go to: http://neic.usgs.gov/neis/eqlists/eqstats.html#table_2 .

The USGS's National Earthquake Information Center locates close to 70 earthquakes each day -- nearly 26,000 a year. On average, there are 17 major earthquakes (magnitude 7.0 to 7.9) and one great earthquake (8.0 or higher) each year worldwide. Several million earthquakes occur in the world each year, but many go undetected because they occur in remote areas or have very small magnitudes. In the U.S., earthquakes pose significant risk to 75 million people in 39 States.

Under the authority of the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), last reauthorized by Congress for the years 2003 to 2008, the USGS is mandated to monitor earthquakes and provide earthquake warnings and notifications. It is the only agency in the Government that provides this service nationwide. The USGS and its partners operate a nationwide earthquake monitoring system that provides warnings, assesses seismic hazards, records earthquake activity and provides information essential in the design of building codes for new construction and retrofitting of existing structures. Timely information on the distribution and severity of earthquake shaking in urban areas is used to direct emergency response and to minimize disruption of lifelines and infrastructure. Data on earthquake shaking is used in the design and construction of safer, more earthquake-resistant buildings and structures.

Although significant progress has been achieved in earthquake research and mitigation, earthquake risk is still high, especially in places in the world where population growth and lack of earthquake-resistant structural design standards have put more and more people at risk.

In the U.S., the USGS and partners are working to improve earthquake monitoring and reporting capabilities to speed earthquake response efforts while at the same time minimize economic impact and enhance business continuity. Central to this goal is construction of an Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), designed to improve earthquake monitoring and reporting infrastructure. This effort has resulted in the installation of over 700 earthquake-monitoring instruments in vulnerable urban areas including San Francisco, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Anchorage, Reno, Las Vegas, and Memphis. Full implementation of the ANSS will result in 7000 new instruments on the ground and in structures. Where fully deployed, the ANSS provides emergency response personnel with real-time (within 5-10 minutes of an event) information on the intensity and distribution of ground shaking that can be used to guide emergency response efforts and rapidly estimate casualties and economic loss. Information on building shaking will equip engineers with the data they need to improve building designs in the future. 


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