Cuando la prevención es mejor que el socorro

PRINCETON – Cuando el terremoto y el maremoto azotaron al Japón en marzo, Brian Tucker estaba en Padang (Indonesia) trabajando con un colega para idear un refugio que podría salvar miles de vidas, si un maremoto como el que en 1797 se alzó del océano Índico, a casi mil kilómetros al sudeste de donde se originó el maremoto asiático de 2004, volviera a golpear o, mejor dicho, cuando lo haga. Tucker es el fundador y presidente de GeoHazards International, organización sin ánimo de lucro cuya misión es la de reducir las muertes y el sufrimiento causados por terremotos en las comunidades más vulnerables del mundo.

Padang es una de esas comunidades. Justo al nordoeste de ella, en Banda Aceh, el maremoto de 2004 causó 160.000 víctimas mortales. Ahora, según dicen los geólogos, lo más probable es que la falla que desencadeno aquel maremoto se rompa más al sur, con lo que las ciudades costeras bajas, como Padang, con una población de 900.000 habitantes, corren un gran riesgo de padecer un terremoto y maremoto muy potentes durante los treinta próximos años.

En Banda Aceh, el maremoto mató a más de la mitad de la población de la ciudad. En Padang, según un cálculo del director de la oficina de gestión de desastres de la ciudad, un maremoto similar podría matar a más de 400.000 personas.

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