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Post-earthquake safety evaluation of buildings in Portoviejo, Manabí province, following the Mw7.8 Ecuador earthquake of April 16, 2016

ABSTRACT

This paper describes the post-earthquake safety assessments conducted by the European Union Civil Protection Team (EUCPT) following the Mw 7.8 Ecuador earthquake of April 16, 2016. The mission of the structural engineers within the EUCPT took place from April 22 to May 7, 2016. Several activities were performed: (i) rapid post-earthquake safety evaluations of buildings, (ii) demolition verification, (iii) safe road access, and (iv) detailed post-earthquake safety assessments of critical buildings. Despite the small number of structural experts, more than 1000 buildings were inspected in Portoviejo and approximately 150 in Pedernales. Several lessons were identified during this mission, including the need of embedding local experts in foreign teams and the importance of having preparedness programs on post-earthquake assessment both for technicians and emergency managers. The efforts of the EUCPT benefitted largely from a Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) pilot project which was underway at the time of the earthquake. While the project was not yet completed, such investment in DRR benefitted the disaster response efforts, even in areas which were not directly involved in the program.