The name itself suggests, an earthquake is the quivering or shaking of the surface of the earth, at some point of the earth. The cause of an earthquake is the movement or dislocation of lava and hot gases under the depths of the earth’s crust.
When an earthquake is about to occur, there is first a mild movement of the mass of earth, as if it is moving as a cradle. Such slight movements are usually quite a few in number and they serve as warning signals, that, more and faster movement can be expected in its wake.
This slight quiver may or may not be followed by stronger tremors, but, if they do, people on earth at that particular point are in for trouble.
An earthquake does not appear everywhere at the same time, nor does it appear in all places. There are certain areas of the earth which are more prone to earthquakes than others.
This is because, at certain places the earth’s crust is weaker than at others, and so, with the movements of depths of the earth, vibrations are felt in the form of an earthquake.
Once, I had the opportunity to see and understand the pangs and pains of the earthquake. This tremor was felt in Delhi when I was there last year, on a short holiday. It was a cold evening and all of the children were sitting in the bedroom of our apartment on the fourth floor.
While we were just chatting and playing cards, I felt the bed shaking wondering if my little brother was shaking the bed, I shouted at him to stop shaking. As I was just in the process of shouting at him, the bed shook once again with greater vigour and this time it appeared as though the walls were also shaking like walls of cloth or paper.
At this, my mother who was working in the kitchen shouted aloud and told us all to run downstairs. This she said because it is always safe to be in the open in the event of an earthquake.
We all rushed down and so did Mummy and, just as we had reached the ground level, the shaking of the ground and the houses had stopped. I was now set thinking as to how such slight movement of the earth could harm man.
The next day when I met my Daddy at the breakfast table this was just my question, I asked – “Daddy how can such slight movement and that also for such a short time render any damage?” To this, my father replied that, those just two minutes of an earthquake can cause a lot of damage, and as he was saying so, the newspaper arrived.
On the very first page the news of the earthquake appeared in bold letters and there were also two pictures showing the damage caused in a certain area of the town. Seeing these pictures I requested my father to take me to these areas of the town to see how and where the damage had occurred, and he agreed to take me.
The area of damage was an area of kutcha huts and jhuggi clusters of the town. The scene I saw there disturbed me all out of my wits, and I realised how an earthquake can damage.
The kutcha huts had been completely uprooted from their foundations, and many people had sustained serious and minor injuries by the falling of the construction material on their heads.
The huts had broken down and the possessions of these poor residents had been completely destroyed or lost. As far as the jhuggi clusters were concerned, there had been no grievous injuries as the jhuggies are not made of any heavy or strong construction material, yet, the living apartments as they were, had been blown off. It was now clear that, it would take months for people to restore their normal living once again.
After we returned home, my father told me that, if the tremor was stronger and for a longer time, even the pucca constructions of our houses would be having the same fate. In reality, he told me that, in areas where there are pucca accommodations damage to men can be much more for the obvious reason. As houses are made of solid and concrete material, when they crumble, the damage is often complete.
This was my first experience of an earthquake. I am happy that I got knowledge and a first hand experience of an earthquake without *any harm to me or my family.
Earthquakes are felt in different places of the world at different times, but, there are some places in the world that experience these more often than others. My father told me that in areas that are more prone to earthquakes, houses are made of lighter material like thatch and bamboo, which even when rocked and broken do not injure life.