Are we (Sri Lankans) prepared for an earthquake?

The young vocalist, lyrics writer Anjalee Bandara has posted following idea in her Facebook account recently.

Anjalee Bandara’s Post in Facebook Following the Earthquake in Turkey

The English translation of the above post:


Sri Lankans had not heard of Tsunami when it came first in 2004. Our people when the sea was receding walked to beach and that lead to more deaths.

Similarly, we do not know much about earthquakes. If someday an earthquake occur in Sri Lanka, people would not know what to do. Hence, it is important our expert educate the public about earthquakes and avoiding injuries and deaths.


There are few facts and points that arise from this post and we thought of listing them here. However, we respect this thought but we will try to evaluate it more scientifically.


It is normal to get anxious


It is normal for people to worry if there is something bad happening in their neighborhood or knowing through news. The fear of experiencing a similar disaster often lingers in the minds of people after a catastrophic event, causing anxiety and worry. So this anxiety shown in this post is common.


Secondary Trauma


Secondary trauma refers to the indirect exposure to traumatic events through media, stories or hearing about the experiences of others, which can lead to stress and psychological distress. This phenomenon is often referred to as “secondary trauma” or “vicarious traumatization.


It involves the psychological distress that results from indirect exposure to traumatic events. In Sri Lanka, for example, the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami caused widespread destruction and loss of life, affecting not only those directly impacted but also those who were indirectly exposed to the traumatic events through media coverage, personal accounts, and conversations with friends and family. People who were not physically present at the disaster site can still experience secondary trauma, which can manifest in various ways such as anxiety, depression, difficulty sleeping, and avoidance behavior.


Moreover, in Sri Lanka, the civil war that lasted for nearly three decades also had a significant impact on the population, causing not only physical but also psychological harm. Those who were directly impacted by the violence, as well as those who were indirectly exposed to it through media or personal accounts, are at risk of developing secondary trauma.


We can see the effects of secondary trauma after this disaster in Turkey and Syria where more than 3400 people lost their lives.




Earthquakes are one of the most powerful and destructive natural disasters that can occur anywhere in the world. An earthquake is caused by the sudden release of energy stored in the Earth’s crust, which creates seismic waves that can cause the ground to shake, sometimes violently. Earthquakes can occur in any location, but certain areas are more vulnerable than others due to geological and geographical factors.


There are several types of earthquakes, including tectonic, volcanic, and collapse earthquakes. Tectonic earthquakes are the most common type and are caused by the movement of tectonic plates along fault lines. Volcanic earthquakes are related to volcanic activity and can be triggered by magma movement or the collapse of a volcanic cone. These types of earthquakes are typically found near active volcanoes and can be frequent in areas with a high concentration of volcanic activity, such as Japan, Italy, and the United States. Collapse earthquakes are caused by the sudden collapse of underground mines, caves, or other man-made structures and are most commonly found in areas where there is extensive mining or underground excavation activity.


The most earthquake-prone areas in the world are located along plate boundaries, such as the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates interact, and along the boundary of the African and Eurasian plates. Other areas at high risk of earthquakes include the Mediterranean region, the Himalayan region, and the western coast of South America.

Earthquakes are a natural disaster that can cause significant damage to communities, as well as human suffering. Understanding the different types of earthquakes, as well as the factors that make certain areas more vulnerable, is crucial in reducing the impact of these disasters and preparing communities for the possibility of future earthquakes.


Earthquakes in Sri Lanka


Sri Lanka is considered to be safer in terms of earthquake risk for several reasons:

  1. Geographical location: Sri Lanka is located in a relatively stable tectonic plate and is not located near any major fault lines, which reduces the likelihood of strong earthquakes.
  2. Low seismic activity: Sri Lanka has a low seismic activity compared to other countries in the region, such as Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines, which are located along the Pacific Ring of Fire and are at high risk of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

While earthquakes can occur anywhere in the world, Sri Lanka is considered to be a safer country in terms of earthquake risk due to its geographical location and low seismic activity.


While Sri Lanka is considered to be a safer country in terms of direct earthquake risk, it is still vulnerable to earthquakes in the form of tsunamis. The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, which devastated much of the Indian Ocean region, had a significant impact on Sri Lanka. The tsunami caused widespread damage and loss of life along the coast of Sri Lanka, highlighting the importance of preparedness measures and early warning systems in reducing the impact of tsunamis on communities.


The government and disaster management organizations in Sri Lanka have since implemented measures to improve their ability to respond to tsunamis, including the construction of tsunami early warning systems and the education of communities on evacuation procedures. Despite these measures, it is important for communities in Sri Lanka to remain vigilant and prepared for the possibility of future tsunamis.


What to do during an earthquake to minimize injury and avoid death


If you are experiencing an earthquake, it is important to take immediate action to protect yourself and minimize the risk of injury or death. Here are some steps to follow during an earthquake:

  1. Drop, cover, and hold on: If you are inside, drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy piece of furniture, and hold on to it. If you are outside, find an open space and drop to the ground.
  2. Stay away from windows and heavy objects: If you are inside, stay away from windows and heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.
  3. Do not use elevators: Elevators can become stuck or malfunction during an earthquake, so it is best to avoid using them.
  4. Evacuate if necessary: If you are in a high-rise building, a heavily populated area, or near the coast, it may be necessary to evacuate to a safe location.
  5. Stay calm: Try to remain calm and focused during the earthquake. If you are injured, call for help and provide first aid if possible.

It is important to be prepared for earthquakes by having a plan in place, knowing the evacuation routes, and having a disaster supply kit on hand. By following these steps, you can help to minimize injury and avoid death during an earthquake.


How prepared we are now for earthquakes and Tsunami


The National Seismic Data Analysis and Tsunami Alert Center, established in the aftermath of the devastating disaster of December 26, 2004, is proposing a name change to either the Seismic Data Analysis Center (SDAC) or the Earth Hazards Alert Center (EHAC) to better reflect its role and responsibilities. Prior to the 2004 disaster, the GSMB had been involved in earthquake monitoring since 2000, but it wasn’t until the disaster that there was a compelling need for a 24/7 earthquake monitoring facility.


The primary purpose of the Seismic Data Analysis Center (SDAC) or the Earth Hazards Alert Center (EHAC) is to supply precise and timely seismic activity data to relevant authorities, particularly in the case of potential tsunamigenic events, as well as for later research. In response to the 2004 tsunami disaster, Sri Lanka’s disaster management system underwent revision and the GSMB was assigned responsibilities related to earthquakes.




We believe it is normal that people get anxious that similar thing will happen to them after the news of a disaster. At the same time people can be affected by coming to know about the loss of lives and that phenomenon is called “Secondary Trauma”. There are certain hotspots in the world map where there is a higher risk of earthquakes. However, Sri Lanka is located away from earthquake prone areas.


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