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The Great Fright

0
29 Oct 2004 - 00:00

EVENT - October 29th 2004

The effects of the earthquake, which happened two days ago have been felt all over the country as well as abroad. Fortunately, the phenomenon didn’t cause any great damages and no victims have been registered.

According to the experts, the earthquake that shook Romania on Wednesday night has been the strongest in the latest 14 years and, from the intensity point of view, it has been close to the one in 1990. The earthquake didn’t cause any significant pecuniary damages, but one person died due to a panic attack. For a few hours, in many of the country’s cities, people stood frightened in the streets. The earthquake, which had its epicentre in the Vrancea area, measured six degrees on the Richter scale and had in the epicentre the intensity of six-seven degrees on the Mercalli scale, according to yesterday’s statement of the director of the Physics of the Earth Institute, Gheorghe Marmureanu. The earthquake happened at 23 hours 24 minutes and 30 seconds, in the Vrancea region, at a depth of one hundred kilometres. Marmureanu advises the people to remain calm and not to panic. The director of the Physics of the Earth Institute says that a catastrophic earthquake, measuring more than 7 degrees on the Richter scale, cannot be registered in Romania until 2006. Prime-Minister Adrian Nastase believes that the earthquake has been "useful" because this is one way to check the activities of the institutions that have to react in such cases. Their prompt reaction pleased him and the PM thanked these institutions. The Capital’s prefect, Dan Darabont, ordered that all the buildings with maximum earthquake risk rate, which are more than one hundred, to be examined in the following days in order to ascertain the consequences of the earthquake on Wednesday night.

ALERT

A few minutes after the earthquake, the Operative Centre for Crisis Situations, inside the Ministry of Administration and Internal Affairs, has been activated. The Centre ordered that all the chiefs to come to work and that the riot police officers in the territories affected by the earthquake should be supplemented. (By Eduard Pascu)

SCARED TO DEATH IN CHISINAU

The earthquake that happened in Romania has been felt by our Moldavian, Ukrainian and Bulgarian neighbours and in Turkey as well. In the Moldavian Republic, where a man died, the earthquake’s intensity has been "between 5 and 6 degrees on the Richter scale", says the Itar-Tass Russian agency. In Bulgaria, the seismic wave measured approximately 5.5 degrees on the Richter scale, according to the Novinite agency. Earthquake’s effects have been felt especially in the North-East of the country. In the localities near the Danube, people got out of their houses, and in Silistra the walls from more buildings cracked. The Turks frightened a lot as well. In Istanbul, the inhabitants sheltered themselves on the streets, under the clear sky. (Irina Cristea)

THE EARTHQUAKE AFFECTED THE REAL ESTATE MARKET

The earthquake on Wednesday night frightened all the inhabitants of Bucharest. Yesterday, many clients that were to purchase flats in tall buildings built before 1977 gave up on signing the papers, even if this meant losing a few thousand euros, which had been paid in advance.

COLLAPSE

"Prices of the apartments in blocks with 10 stories, which have been built before 1977, will dramatically decrease", believes Emil Giurgiu, president of the National Union of the Real Estate Agents (NUREA). He thinks that the prices on this market will collapse with 30 to 40%, because people know that heights and earthquakes don’t go well together. "The apartments in the new blocks having eight or ten stories, which have been built to resist for up to 8 degrees earthquakes, will be affected as well", says Giurgiu. Emotional remembrance will impose.

GAIN

"People reoriented towards the houses or four storied blocks, even if they are at the periphery", says Giurgiu. These tendencies have been observed in the morning after the earthquake. "The prices of the little four storied blocks will increase by 10 to 15%, not depending on the location", reckons Giurgiu. The people projecting neighbourhoods with cheaper houses at the periphery of the Capital and the land owners will gain a lot. The saying "every wonder doesn’t last more than three days", this meaning that the real estate market will come back to normal after the people will forget the fright on Wednesday night, is not what the NUREA president thinks. "There are a lot of people thinking that in 2006 a major earthquake will occur. I think that now this belief will become more certain", says Giurgiu.

REPLY

"I don’t think that the earthquake will have a real effect upon the real estate market", states Liviu Ureche, president of the Romanian Association of Real Estate Agencies. He adds that the buildings having major problems are very well-known - the ones published on the City Hall’s website - and that these buildings already have much lower prices. However, the market will keep its course, meaning that the prices of old or new buildings will increase until the European Union adherence. (By Daniela Ivan)

Translation: SORIN BALAN

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