Since the earthquake in Morocco, Spain and Portugal have done their best to reinforce some key infrastructure that would not withstand a large-scale earthquake.
The recent earthquake that struck Morocco has revived fears of a major earthquake in the Iberian Peninsula, a region at risk in order to avoid a disaster on the scale of the one that struck Lisbon in 1755.
several months ago, Dozens of workers work day and night on a huge scaffold Which covers the columns and the lower part of the central deck of a bridge located on one of the main access roads to the Portuguese capital.
In addition to renewing it, The aim of this intervention, which should end in February 2024, is: “Reinforcement of anti-seismic structure” Helder Lourenço, director of the road and railway network in Portugal, explains to AFP the details of the bridge that extends across the Alcantara Valley and its railway line. This reinforced concrete bridge, built in the 1940s, is used daily by approximately 134,000 vehicles.
In Portugal, hospitals, bridges and firefighters are not ready
but Only in 1983 did Portugal adopt more demanding anti-seismic building standards. Since then, the country has adopted Eurocode 8, more stringent European standards, updated with newer scientific knowledge.
In the event of a strong shock.“Buildings before 1983 are not ready, and this represents perhaps half of the buildings in the south of the country.”It is the region most vulnerable to earthquakes, warns engineer Jose Paulo Costa, who specializes in earthquake-resistant construction. This includes in particular basic constructions such as Hospitalsthe Fire stations where is the BridgesThis expert adds, suggesting that we start by strengthening these structures “vital”.
The great earthquake of 1755 that destroyed“Three quarters of Lisbon” According to Voltaire’s account of it in his philosophical tale “Candide”, it remains strongly present in the minds of the Portuguese.
“We know that an earthquake is likely to happen again soon.” then “I came here to find out what to do”Ana Martins, a 26-year-old manicurist, testifies after a visit to the immersive “Earthquake” museum, which immerses visitors in the dramatic moments that occurred on November 1, 1755.
This earthquake, followed by a tsunami, the violent tremors of which were felt as far away as northern Europe, had a global impact in the 18th century.
It was then swept away by the tidal wave and destroyed by the fires that followedLisbon would never regain its position as the great economic center it had at that time, as the capital of a great colonial empire.
This earthquake, whose magnitude today is estimated at between 8.5 and 9 on the Richter scale, also struck Cadiz, southern Spain, and even Morocco. The disaster killed between 10,000 and 70,000 people in Lisbon, according to various estimates, and more than 2,000 people in Cádiz, Andalusia.
This tragedy “Recorded in collective memory” And “We know that a similar earthquake will definitely happen again.”says Fernando Carrillo, a seismologist at the Geophysics Department of the Portuguese Meteorological Institute.
He remembers that it is impossible to predict an earthquake. Due to its geographical location, on the border of the Eurasian and African plates, it is called the Azores-Gibraltar division. Continental Portuguese territories, as well as southern Spain, are extremely vulnerable.
Since the 17th century, the south of the Iberian Peninsula has witnessed other earthquakes, such as the 1969 earthquake that caused many deaths in both countries.
In the face of this danger, Spain and Portugal are seeking to prepare. Following an earthquake simulation exercise held on Monday in Marbella, in southeastern Spain, the town of Chipiona, in Cádiz province, planned to hold a tsunami warning exercise on November 6 as part of an international initiative organized by UNESCO in eight countries. .
In June 2023, the Andalusia region also approved a tsunami control plan covering 800 kilometers of coastline and more than 500 beaches in 62 municipalities.
Portugal and its archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira also have tsunami warning stations.