Schools at risk from big quakes

More than 250 schools need urgent work to make them resistant to major earthquakes, according to research by inspectors who recommended that some of the buildings be demolished altogether. The discovery has been made by the Earthquake Planning and Protection Organization (OASP) which began a survey of all public building six years ago to test their sturdiness. OASP wants to test some 80,000 buildings in total but only has the results of some 3,000 checks so far. But experts say that it is already clear that some schools need to be strengthened or rebuilt completely. Scientists at Aristotle University in Thessaloniki have analyzed the data collected by OASP. The project is being led by Professor Cosmas Stylianidis, who told Sunday’s Kathimerini that it is «encouraging» that the figures so far show that two-thirds of public buildings have been built in compliance with earthquake-protection regulations. In contrast, it is estimated that just under half of non-public buildings in Greece are resistant to earthquakes. However, Vassilis Papazachos, a professor of geophysics at the university, believes that it is vital for authorities to develop a priority system for the work that needs to be done to protect buildings against tremors. «The solution that we seismologists propose is prioritization,» Papazachos said. «The time line of seismic activity in Greece is one of the factors that needs to be taken into account when prioritizing.»