Cyprus Mail

Committee set to evaluate Cyprus’ earthquake preparedness, building quality

empty shops and crumbling buildings in the old city (christos theodorides)
File photo: Crumbling buildings in the old Nicosia (Christos Theodorides)

The House interior committee will meet next week to evaluate the state’s earthquake response preparedness and to further discuss the stability and quality of buildings.

Both issues have gained renewed attention, according to head of the committee Aristos Damianos.

He told parliament on Thursday that the devastating earthquake which severely struck neighbouring Turkey and Syria has added urgency to the matter.

“There are ongoing discussions about tweaking the legislation for checks to be carried out on structural suitability of buildings,” Damianos said.

He added that the committee will continue its evaluation of how to handle abandoned or otherwise dangerous buildings.

The MP emphasised that the goal is to achieve legislative reform so these matters can be adequately addressed.

Last month, civil engineers called on the state to subsidise the anti-seismic upgrading of buildings following the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria.

The Association of Civil Engineers (Spolmik) also released a video showing the disrepair of buildings around the island that includes images from the collapse of several balconies last year from shoddy buildings. There were no earthquakes or bad weather at the time.

Spolmik, in an accompanying statement, expressed its “strong concern about the critical and dangerous point which the ageing building stock of Cyprus has reached and the risk of human lives being lost”.

It called on the state to subsidise the anti-seismic upgrading of buildings and to immediately establish legislative regulations for building inspections and the issuance of inspection certificates.

Similar calls were made by the technical chamber Etek in the wake of the recent earthquake. “Eventually time runs out, the procrastination must end, and decisions be taken immediately,” the chamber said last week.

Cyprus introduced anti-seismic codes for buildings around 1994. According to government figures there are more than 400,000 residential buildings and more than 30,000 non-residential buildings around the island. Almost half of the residential buildings are single-family houses. Best estimates put at close to 120,000 to 130,000 being built before the code was introduced.

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