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Montenegro earthquake risk profile

Prepared by the Emergency Management Sector of the Ministry of Interior and Public Administration of Montenegro.

Montenegro is located in Southeast Europe, it has an area of 13,812 km2, with the total of 190,212 households and 620,145 inhabitants, according to the 2003 census (based on the so-called new concept of domicile population). The capital city is Podgorica. Land borders of Montenegro are 614 km long, while the sea border is 293 km long, which equals half of its land borders. Montenegro has sovereignty over a part of the Adriatic with the accompanying aquatic area up to 12 nautical miles away from land (22.2 km). The climate shows features of the continental, Mediterranean and mountain climate.

Monday, 10 January 2011
(General News)
Haiti's disaster of engineering . “After all it was the buildings, not the earthquake that killed 220,000 people in Haiti”. Peter Haas

PPRD South received the link to this remarkable video from Mr. Sálvano Briceño, Director of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR). “This video - he says - shows very well the main earthquake related problem that needs to be tackled: building safety. It is about Haiti but it is applicable to any poor urban area in the world”.

Mr. Briceño also suggests to focus the forthcoming PPRD South earthquakes workshop on this key and urgent risk reduction issue.

"Haiti was not a natural disaster - says Peter Haas in the video - It was a disaster of engineering." As the country rebuilds after January's deadly quake, are bad old building practices creating another ticking time bomb? Haas's group, AIDG, is helping Haiti's builders learn modern building and engineering practices, to assemble a strong country brick by brick.

See the video at: http://www.ted.com/talks/peter_haas_haiti_s_disaster_of_engineering.html
Wednesday, 27 October 2010
(General News)
Special feature - Where do we stand on earthquake resistant building standards in the Mediterranean?

The New Zealand benchmark

On Saturday 4 September at 4:35 AM the city of Christchurch in New Zealand was struck by a violent earthquake classified with magnitude 7.1 of the Richter scale, an earthquake with a similar destructive power than the January 2010 Haiti earthquake. In New Zealand no deaths were registered, only two persons were seriously wounded although around one hundred thousand houses were affected by the earthquake. The initially estimated total amount of damage cost was less than two billion euro (the damage cost in Haiti was initially estimated at 9 billion euro, in L’Aquila was estimated at 12 billion euro and in Chile between 15 and 20 billion euro). Two days after the earthquake only 200 people were still staying in emergency shelters.

One of the reasons for the relatively small amount of damage and the low number of victims is the high level of building standards implemented in the country. Following the destructive Napier earthquake that struck New Zealand in 1931 causing 256 deaths and thousands of wounded, the country created an insurance system to cover the damages of such disasters and a national commission with the task of defining proper building standards in view to reduce the impact of earthquakes. These standards didn’t simply remained on paper. A special fund was set up with the objective to support the enforcement of the new building code. For more than 70 years no destructive earthquake struck the country, yet the anti-seismic building code continued to be developed and strictly enforced all around the country.

What about anti-seismic building codes in the EU?

In order to lead to more homogeneous levels of safety in construction in Europe, the European Commission issued in 2003 the Recommendation on the implementation and use of Eurocodes. The Eurocodes are a set of European design codes for building and civil engineering works. Conceived and developed over the past 30 years, they are intended to satisfy the essential requirements of resistance and stability, as well as safety in case of fire and earthquake. Member States are encouraged to adopt, promote and contribute to the development of the Eurocodes that are intended to be mandatory for European public works and likely to become the de-facto standard for the private sector – both in Europe and world-wide. In particular, the Eurocode 8 explains how to make building and civil engineering structures resistant to earthquakes.

The EU Member Countries are currently incorporating the Eurocodes in the national regulations through the definition of the National Standards and Annexes.

And the situation in the Mediterranean?

To encourage scientific and technical co-operation for the improvement of structural design standards and the harmonization of construction products between Mediterranean Partners Countries and the European Union Member States, in November 2006, the European Commission organized a workshop on “EUROCODES: Building the Future in the Euro-Mediterranean Area” in collaboration with the NATO ”Science for Peace and Security” Programme.

During the workshop special attention was paid to the improvement of safety in construction, and particularly to the contribution of modern seismic design standards to earthquake risk mitigation. The Workshop was attended by high-level representatives of the National Authorities, National Standardization Bodies, Academia and Industry from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Albania. 

The specific situation of participating Mediterranean countries on the availability of seismic design guidelines was reviewed along with their technical needs for reducing the gaps with the European Union in the standardization of principles and requirements for achieving safety, serviceability and durability of structures.

The conclusion of the workshop highlighted that:

in some Mediterranean countries the Eurocodes are already used, several countries are planning their direct implementation, a number of companies that participate in international construction projects are using the Eurocodes, there are universities offering courses on Eurocodes, EU and NATO cooperation programmes would be the best option for funding scientific and technical co-operation for reducing existing gaps in anti-seismic design and building standards


Highlights on earthquake resistant building standards in some Mediterranean countries – according to the presentations made at the 2006 Eurocodes workshop and the national Hyogo Framework for Action reports

The first national Algerian code for the design of earthquake resistant buildings was enforced in 1983 following the 7.3 El Asnam earthquake of 1980. Before that date the French building code was used in Algeria with no specific provision for earthquake resistant buildings. The 1980 code was based on the American building code and was revised in 1988, in 1999 and in 2003 after the devastating Boumerdes earthquake. These revisions were done taking into account the Eurocode standards. In 2003 a new seismic zoning for Algeria was prepared extending the high seismicity zone and limiting, in this zone, the utilization of the reinforced concrete frame with masonry walls to buildings with two storeys and strongly recommending the use of “perpendicular” walls. The difficulties encountered in Algeria with the incorporation of the Eurocode in the national building standards concerned the required high quality construction material which is not easily available in the Mediterranean, and the fact that the Eurocodes were developed in relation with the construction conditions of the European countries and do not address technical problems typical of the Mediterranean countries such as the characteristics of the soil. At the 2006 workshop, Algeria called for improved technical cooperation with the EU on the adaptation of the provisions of the Eurocode 8 to the characteristics of the Mediterranean construction sector in view of effectively incorporating them into the national building standards.


Following the February 2004 Al Hoceima earthquake, Morocco set up a National Committee on Earthquake Engineering to ensure the  enforcement of the earthquakes resistance requirements of the national building code, which was established in year 2000. According to a 2005 survey, the Moroccan building code for earthquake resistant buildings was not being applied by most of the Moroccan engineers and architects.

72% of the building owners declined the use of the code. 55% of the technical studies and engineering offices applied it only occasionally or at all. 50% of them never made anti-seismic calculations, 98% couldn’t do them and only 2% resulted able to do them. These results were mostly due to the fact that engineers and architects were not sufficiently trained on the application of the code and that their own computational tools were not adequate.


A building code was first enforced in Egypt in 1964, yet the first comprehensive building code covering concrete structures, soil mechanics & foundation and electrical connections in buildings was published in 1980. The provisions of calculations of the seismic effects on buildings and bridges in the Egyptian building code were completely revised in 2001 and 2006 also taking into account the Eurocode 8. According to the new building code, Egypt is subdivided into five seismic zones. In seismic zones 4 and 5, unreinforced masonry is not permitted and it is strongly suggested to use reinforced concrete frames with masonry walls.

During the 2006 workshop Egypt expressed interest in cooperating with the European partners on the development and the improved enforcement of codes and standards related to the construction industry.


Tunisia adopted the French earthquake resistant building code which is regularly used by architects and engineers for the design of new buildings. This code is mostly in line with the provision of Eurocode 8 which is also being used for training by national Universities. At the 2006 workshop, Tunisia highlighted its interest to move towards the full adoption of Eurocode 8 provided that training and technical support are made available by the EU to fully incorporate in the code various specific aspects related to the national constructions context.


In Albania, in 2006, the structural design requirements were still based on the 1989 version of the national code. Years 1985-2005 were characterized by the rapid urbanization and the uncontrolled “boom” in the construction sector which was accompanied by the construction of many abusive buildings. In this respect, considering also the country seismicity, the urgent need to revise and update the Building Regulations was recently raised. The adoption of the Eurocodes was considered the best way to accomplish this important task, although the expected increase in the building cost. The possible compensations coming from reduced damages in case of earthquake were considered a reasonable motivation to proceed in this direction. The country requested financial and technical support by the EU for the implementation of the Eurocodes, in particular for the preparation of the National Annexes in a proper format. The adoption of the Eurocodes and its enforcement has been planned through a programme of seminars and technical publications, aimed at helping practitioners in the application of the new regulation.


In Montenegro a 700,000 euro project on “achieving highest safety and technical quality of construction” was recently funded by the EU with the objective of creating the necessary prerequisites for the harmonization of national regulations and standards for structural analysis and design with the regulations and standards of EU. The project also finances the development of the national capacities for the successful adoption, implementation and use of these regulations and standards.


Application of Eurocodes started in Croatia in 1998. Eurocodes were introduced in teaching programmes of structural engineering of Croatian universities, were translated into Croatian and training of professionals started. Relevant National Application Documents and Annexes were prepared defining specific national values (in particular for seismic zoning) and standards in the areas where European standards were not available or were deemed not consistent. The development of the national Annexes was the more demanding task, in particular for Eurocode 8, considering that 92% of the Croatian territory is earthquake prone which is not the case of the majority of the other European countries.


The first earthquake resistant building code was introduced in Israel in 1975. The code “Design provisions for earthquake resistance of structures” was frequently updated and the 2004 version introduced guidelines for seismic resistance assessment and for strengthening existing structures.

Although the code is compulsory by law, very little was done in the country for its enforcement. The fact that there was no severe earthquake in Israel during the last decades also contributed to shift attention from this important aspect for the reduction of the impact of earthquakes.


In Jordan the national building and fire prevention code was first published in 1990. The provisions concerning the seismic risk were only integrated recently and they only concern the construction of new buildings. The provisions related to the reinforcement of old buildings are still to be developed.


In Syria, the first anti-seismic building code was issued in 1995. The code is still being developed in order to mitigate the negative consequences of earthquakes.


The seismic design code of Turkey was revised in 1968, 1975, 1998 and 2007 according to the most advanced international standards. Although Turkey experienced earthquakes with catastrophic consequences, it is believed that the damage did not stem from the weaknesses of the codes but from the insufficient enforcement of seismic design codes: poor construction practices and inadequate inspections. In Turkey, the application of building designs and construction codes is supervised by the municipalities which are mostly not equipped for accomplishing this important task. Following the 1999 earthquakes, the government ratified a new regulation allowing subcontracting private companies for supervising the correct application of building construction codes.

In the wake of the 1999 earthquakes, considering the existence of many buildings which were not constructed according to seismic design codes and were to be considered highly vulnerable in terms of potential seismic damage, the Ministry of Public Works and Settlement set up a commission for revising the Turkish Seismic Design Code and adding a new chapter on seismic safety evaluation and consolidation of existing structures.

The application of Eurocode 8 in Italy was quite difficult due to the presence, in seismic zones, of existing masonry buildings and diffused cultural heritage in the characteristic historic centres. The improvement of the safety level for these buildings should have been addressed taking into account the artistic and cultural importance of the construction. But this was not foreseen in the Eurocode 8 while it was widely considered in the Italian Code whose standards and rules resulted more advanced than the Eurocode 8. This aspect is the result of the Italian experience with earthquakes.

The problem of seismic zones with many existing masonry buildings is not only an Italian problem, it is probably common to all the Mediterranean countries. For this reason the development of the National Italian Annexes to Eurocode 8 may be an important example for all other Mediterranean countries. The Italian experience with the adoption of Eurocode 8 is described in the online publication “Eurocode 8 Perspectives from the Italian Standpoint Workshop” and can be also the possible object of a PPRD South technical assistance action for interested Programme Partner Countries.

Monday, 11 October 2010
(General News)
Earthquake: learning from past disasters
A six-day PPRD South workshop on earthquakes is scheduled for 22-27 November 2010 in Rome, Italy. Following a general introduction to the seismic risk in the Mediterranean region, the agenda will focus on the Italian experience with early warning systems and on the available earthquake prevention tools at European level. A specific section will be dedicated to emergency planning in urban areas with examples from various metropolitan areas of the region: Algiers, Istanbul, Lisbon and Athens. The workshop will continue with a study visit to L'Aquila, the Italian city struck by a devastating earthquake in April 2009 which caused 308 victims and 15 billion euro damage. Workshop participants will visit L'Aquila to review the damages and analyse the recovery activities carried out by the Italian Civil Protection Department. They will also take part as observers to the Tuscany Earthquake Relief Exercise (TEREX 2010), an European full scale exercise planned for 25-27 November organized by the Italian Civil Protection Department in collaboration with the European Civil Protection Mechanism.
Monday, 11 October 2010
(International Cooperation on Civil Protection)
Meeting of the project Harmonization of Seismic Hazards Maps for the Western Balkan Countries

High level decision makers from the countries participating to the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe met in Ankara on 22 July 2010 in the occasion of a coordination meeting in the framework of the project Harmonization of Seismic Hazards Maps for the Western Balkan Countries.

The meeting had the objective of further bringing forward the preparation of new seismic hazard maps for the Western Balkan region using modern scientific methodologies that will ensure harmonization among the countries of the region as well as with the European seismic zoning standards specified in the so called Eurocode 8.

The Eurocodes are a set of European structural design codes for building and civil engineering works. Conceived and developed over the past 30 years with the combined expertise of the member states of the European Union, they are arguably the most advanced structural codes in the world. The Eurocodes are intended to be mandatory for European public works and likely to become the de-facto standard for the private sector – both in Europe and world-wide. Eurocode 8 explains how to make building and civil engineering structures resistant to earthquakes.

The Meeting was chaired by Mr. Mehmet ERSOY, Director-General of the Turkish Disasters and Emergency Management Presidency (DEMP) and was attended by Mr. Samir AGIC Deputy Minister of Security, Protection and Rescue of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Prof. Sali KELMENDI Director-General of the Planning and Coordination Department of the Albanian Ministry of Interior, Mr. Trajko TODORCEVSKI Chief Supervisor responsible for disasters of the Ministry of Interior of Macedonia, Mr. Orhan TOPCU Head of the Secretariat of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe, Mr. I. Ejder KAYA Head of Planning and Mitigation Department of DEMP, Prof. Dr. Mr. Sinan AKKAR from METU Construction Engineering Department and Prof. Dr. Atilla ANSA from Bogazici University Earthquake Engineering Department.

The project Harmonization of Seismic Hazards Maps for the Western Balkan Countries was launched in 2007 in the framework of the Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Initiative of the Stability Pact for South Eastern Europe with the support of the NATO Science for Peace and Security Programme. The main objective of the project is to prepare the ground for joint preparedness and prevention activities in disaster management among the countries of the region. The process of harmonization of the earthquake terminology and of the seismic risk maps will allow to improve scientific collaboration between the project partners and to enhance  cooperation and coordination in the field of seismic hazard management.

The project is implemented by the national institutions and/or the organizations that are responsible for disaster management and seismic risk reduction in the participating countries: Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Albania and Turkey.

Project web site: http://www.wbseismicmaps.org/Home.htm

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

This article, published in 2005 on the American Journal of Environmental Sciences, describes the Dead Sea fault system which represents one of the most tectonically active regions in the Middle East, with reference to the earthquake swarm occurred from the end of 2003 to the middle of July 2004. The study examines the location of the strongest events (Dec. 31st, 2003; February 11th, 2004 and March, 15th, 2004) and correlates them with the various tectonic elements in the Dead Sea basin. The source mechanism of the three events is also examined.

Read the article

Thursday, 10 June 2010
Search and Rescue training course in the framework of the French-Lebanese cooperation

Following the 2006 Lebanon War which killed over 1,000 people in the country and severely damaged the national civil infrastructure, the Lebanese General Directorate of Civil Defense asked the support of the "Euro-Mediterranean Programme on Civil Protection", at the time in its second phase coordinated by France, for making a comprehensive needs assessment in view of better responding to wartime and peacetime emergencies.

Friday, 14 May 2010
Seism, don’t panic - before, during and after

This brochure prepared by the Algerian Red Crescent,  is addressed to children and explains in a clear and efficient way what necessary actions should be taken in the event of an earthquake. Before an earthquake, we must be prepared, and know where protected areas and those at risk are. During an earthquake, it is necessary to know what to do, whether at home, at school or in a car, and where to go to protect oneself. Instructions are given to follow after the earthquake. Advice is also given on the preparation of an emergency kit. The brochure is available in Arabic and French only.(UNESCO)

Friday, 14 May 2010
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