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Experts: Public uninformed about earthquakes

December 1, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Experts in seismology and engineering on Wednesday gathered at the University of California, Los Angeles, to discuss how the public can learn from recent earthquakes and prepare for the "Big One." This year brought renewed attention to seismic safety after the world watched Haiti and Chile struggle to deal with massive earthquakes.

"Will it take a couple of high-rise collapses for us to take it more seriously and start designing very large buildings housing hundreds to thousands of people to higher standards than normal buildings?" said earthquake engineer Peter Yanev. "I think we should. Chile shows it."

Experts said we need to focus on the interior of the buildings in order to save lives.

Many hospitals, schools and private buildings are still in need of major work.

Engineers feel the key is stricter seismic standards.

Experts in every field say the public doesn't know enough.

"I would love to see that there was some way that the average citizen would be able to tell which buildings are vulnerable," said Tom Heaton, a Caltech Geophysicist.

Their suggestion is to be proactive and ask questions.