GORNO-ALTAISK, December 29 (Itar-Tass) — Seismic activity in the Tuva republic has been subsiding in the recent day. Despite this, evacuation centres where the number of people is becoming smaller every time continue to work, head of the republic Sholban Kara-ool said on Thursday at a meeting with RF Regional Development Minister Viktor Basargin.
According to him, after a strong tremor measuring 9.5 points on the Richter scale, 26 minor aftershocks were recorded in Tuva between December 27 and 28. Thus, the intensity of earth tremors is subsiding, believes Sholban Kara-ool. The Tuvan Commission for Emergency Situations is currently functioning in the normal mode, he said.
Sholban Kara-ool thanked Viktor Basargin for support and reported to him on the situation in the republic. He noted that the effects of the earthquake at first glance may seem insignificant. However, experts are continuing to assess the consequences of the calamity, damage done to buildings and facilities on which the final conclusions will be based.
Viktor Basargin said that he arrived in Tuva to study the state of affairs following the earthquake, to familiarise himself with the state of life support facilities in the region and to take prompt measures for the provision of the needed aide by the Russian government to the republic.
On Wednesday, Russian Emergency Situations Minister Sergei Shoigu said Shoigu during a telephone conference with the republic’s leader Sholban Kara-ool that the Republic of Tuva has been extremely lucky to avoid casualties and extensive damage during the powerful earthquake, according to the press service of the Tuva government. Sholban Kara-ool informed the minister about the safety measures that had been taken and the result of checks of bridges in the region.
According to preliminary reports, bridges have not been damaged, except the one that links Tuva's capital with the right bank neighbourhood. Back in the spring, specialists acknowledged that the bridge was a hazard because of the weakening of its support structure.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Tuva leader toured a number of facilities in Kyzyl. He heard reports on the current situation and demanded more vigorous efforts by inter-departmental groups which are now checking the conditions of apartment houses and vital infrastructure facilities, both in the republic’s capital and in the Kaa-Khem district worst hit by the quake. The Tuva leader cancelled the New Year charity ball which was to have taken place in Kyzyl. He ordered to dispatch two working groups to the villages of Erzhei and Sizim, Kaa-Khem district, where repairs of transmissions lines were still underway.
Shoigu approved all the measures the republic’s authorities are taking. He underlined that an aftermath of such a powerful earthquake was simply inevitable. The minister did not rule out that an overwhelming majority of bridges would be certified as hazardous. Shoigu ordered a thorough inspection of roads, bridge passes and buildings for stability. To this end, he sent professionals to Kyzyl and is ready to send more experts. “It is difficult to gauge the danger on sight; it's necessary to closely work with architects, and draw certificates. By all means, run another check on power facilities, such as the Kyzyl thermal power plant, in particular its fuel feed, the reliability of vessels and many other things. Prepare conclusions by the results of the checks,” Shoigu said.
Meanwhile, the authorities of a number of Siberian regions scrambled to take urgent measures after an unprecedented earthquake of force 9.5 on Richter scale. Ground tremors were felt in Tuva, Khakasia, the Kranoyarsk Territory and the Irkutsk, Kemerovo, Novosibirsk and Tomsk regions. According to preliminary information, there were no casualties or damage, and thermal and energy facilities continuing to operate in normal mode. However, Tuva introduced a state of emergency from Wednesday, head of the republic Sholban Kara-ool stated. He decided to allocate funds from the reserve fund to eliminate the aftermath of the earthquake. Inter-departmental working groups will inspect social infrastructure facilities, bridges, roads, transmission lines and apartment houses.
Deputy head of the Tuva premier's office Gennady Kuular, who supervises work with municipalities, said residents of Kyzyl and central districts of the republic had found small cracks on walls, smashed dishes and damaged furniture in their apartments in the morning. “Further checks will show how serious the reports are,” Kuular said.
Director of the Tyvaenergo electric utility Vadim Peshkurov said 16 of 40 electric substations had been checked overnight. Power cutoffs were reported in the villages of Erzhei and Sizim, Kaa-Khemsky district, which are close to the epicentre of the earthquake.
Repairs continue in the area. Director of the Kyzyl thermal power plant Andrei Trotsan stated the facility had operated without interruptions at night and in the morning. Trotsan promised a thorough check. Mobile groups were set up in Tuva to monitor the situation elsewhere in the republic, as well as in Kyzyl's neighbourhoods. The Emergency Situations Ministry was forming a group of 100 rescuers there which will make camp for a population of 400.
Classes at all the 173 schools were cancelled and the schools themselves might be used to accommodate the population, following Kyzyl's suit on Tuesday night, Deputy Tuva Education Minister Nikita Kuular said. First Deputy Prime Minister of Tuva Artur Mongal said there were no particular reasons to panic, yet all the security measures had to be observed.
The evacuation of miners in Khakasia has already finished, following the Tuva quake. The Kemerovo region will complete the evacuation shortly, and in Buryatia, evacuation has ended, too. A crisis headquarters was set up by the Emergency Situations Ministry's department in Buryatia. It is interacting with the administrations of the Tunkinsky and Okinsky districts /the latter borders on Tuva/, and has checked the key social infrastructure facilities.
Khakasia leader Viktor Zimin, who had been on a working trip to Moscow, flew to Abakan on Tuesday. The crisis headquarters includes senior government officials and heads of executive bodies. The Emergency Situations Ministry's units in Khakasia are on standby. A centralized regional warning system has been activated to advise the population about possible repeat tremors. The population was urged to remain calm and watch for news reports. Local television companies run live interviews with the mayors of Abakan and Sayanoborsk and representatives of the regional administration.