Major quakes, tsunamis unlikely in Vietnam: scientist

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Vietnamese citizens fearful of earthquakes measuring 7.0 or more on the Richter scale or tsunamis hitting the country can breathe easy, a scientist says.

This is because Vietnam does not lie on the Pacific Ring of Fire, a zone where frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean, said Tran Van Tan, deputy head of the Vietnam Institute of Geology and Mineral Resources.

"However, aftershocks measuring below 7.0 can happen in northern Vietnam," Tan said Friday, a day after the 6.8 magnitude quake hit Myanmar, leaving at least 74 people dead and hundreds homeless. Tremors of the quake were felt in Hanoi, sending many people into a panic.

Le Minh Huy, director of the Center of Earthquake Information and Tsunami Warning, said though the number of quakes have tended to rise in the country, they have not been not powerful.

Since late 2010, many provinces and cities across the country like Cao Bang, Thanh Hoa, Nghe An, Ba Ria Vung Tau have experienced tremors, he said.

As for tsunamis, scientists of the Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology, and Environment under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said the possibility of tsunami in the country's coastal areas is very low.

They said Vietnam is protected by its neighboring island and peninsula countries like Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, and Malaysia; therefore, tsunamis originating in the Pacific Ocean are unlikely to reach the country.

Meanwhile, Minh said in case a strong quake strikes Manila in Philippines and causes a tsunami, it would take at least two hours for it to reach Vietnam's central region.

"We can transmit tsunami warnings 10-20 minutes after the quake occurs [in Philippines]. So, we have more than an hour [which is enough] to evacuate residents," he said.

In the event of tremors, Minh recommended that people cover their heads with their hands and shelter under nearest tables to avoid falling objects.

He said after the tremors end, they should immediately leave their houses and return only when the situation becomes stable, 30 minutes to one hour later.

For people outdoors, Minh said they should stay away from high-rise buildings and trees at the time of the quake.

In related news, following the recent Hanoi quake and the Japan disaster, the government has ordered the Ministry of Construction to examine buildings across the country and consider demolishing old apartment buildings that cannot withstand earthquakes, newswire VnExpress quoted Le Quang Hung, director of the ministry's Project Quality Assessment Department as saying.

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