ASTANA – President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev chaired a meeting on seismic safety on Jan. 25 in Almaty, attended by the Executive Office of the President, Security Council, government members, mayors and regional emergency department heads, reported the Akorda press service.
The President urged for comprehensive awareness campaigns and regular training in schools and government agencies.
Tokayev noted that a third of the country’s territory is susceptible to earthquakes. Over the past five years, seismological stations have recorded more than 45,000 cases of earthquakes, most of which are of low magnitude.
“Frankly speaking, during the emergency situation in Almaty, the relevant authorities were not fully prepared for immediate measures. Citizens were frightened, not knowing how to behave. However, the main goal of this meeting is not to criticize, but to make concrete decisions,” Tokayev said.
The President’s speech focused on the readiness of the infrastructure for population evacuation and the warning system.
“During a strong earthquake, people are not at all concerned about information on its physical characteristics and the location of the epicenter. They had already felt the power of the elements. At such a moment, it is more important to provide citizens with information on how to proceed: whether it is safe to return to their homes or where to get help. Therefore, the warning system needs to be reconsidered and made more oriented towards practical needs,” he said.
Tokayev criticized the poor material and technical equipment of the emergency prevention and response system. This applies both to the seismic monitoring network and to providing rescuers with modern devices, machinery and equipment.
“According to experts’ calculations, the installation of an additional 285 seismic stations is required throughout the country. In the event of a devastating earthquake, the availability and accessibility of state material reserves will be of great importance. The ability to quickly restore transport links and organize medical care will play a decisive role,” said the President emphasizing the importance of drawing lessons from the recent earthquake and urging meeting participants to address any shortcomings collaboratively.
Tokayev said that Almaty and other regions should be prepared for earthquakes and provided with the necessary infrastructure.
“Special gathering places and temporary shelters for residents should be checked. It is also necessary to adequately organize work to resettle citizens to safe places, provide emergency assistance to victims, and open mobile treatment centers. In addition, sufficient material reserves should be created. Another important thing is to ensure the prompt arrival of rescue services from other regions in the case of a disaster,” he said.
Tokayev emphasized the need to strengthen the seismic resistance of buildings and structures and instructed the government and Almaty akimat to test this question.
“It is necessary to increase the population’s preparedness for emergency situations, not on paper, but in practice. The main task is to ensure the safety of citizens. This is a matter of national security. In emergencies, the country requires a quick response and coordinated work of all relevant structures,” he noted.
Tokayev urged the Ministry of Emergency Situations to rethink its activities critically and addressed the residents of Almaty.
“Please, stay calm and keep prudence, do not panic, do not follow the lead of provocateurs and irresponsible individuals who deliberately spread rumors and misinformation. Real Almaty residents have always been distinguished by prudence. Be sure that the country’s leadership will do everything possible to ensure the safety of all Almaty residents. The aspirations of Almaty residents will be the focus of our attention constantly. Be sure of this,” Tokayev said.