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Earthquake Resilience in Kashmir Lies in Traditional Architecture

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Kashmir, the northernmost region of the Indian subcontinent, is famous for two things: landscape and conflict. The scenic valley from which it gets its name, some 90 miles long and 25 miles wide, was born from the collision of the Indian and Eurasian plates and is guarded by the snowcapped Himalayan Mountains above. But more than seven decades of conflict have severely damaged the political and cultural fabric of the region, denying it much-needed development in science and technology. Nowhere is this truer than in earthquake safety.

In mid-June, a small-magnitude (5.0) earthquake struck the Bhadarwāh area of the India-governed territory of Jammu and Kashmir, part of the overall Kashmir region. Many buildings developed cracks, and five people were injured, including two students. Earthquake hazard is built into the tectonic fabric of the geography, given its location at the crux of two active plates. But hazard turns into disaster because in Kashmir, as elsewhere, construction has shifted from the more traditional resistant wood-based buildings to concrete. This small…

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