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New Zealand Engineer Mission to Padang, Indonesia

A M7.6 earthquake, with depth 80 km, occurred near Padang City, Sumatra, Indonesia on September 30, 2009. The USGS Earthquake Hazards Program provides details, a summary, maps and links to scientific and technical information. The earthquake reportedly caused significant and widespread building damage from shaking (well in excess of 40,000 buildings), as well as from earthquake induced land sliding and liquefaction. People have been impacted with significant numbers of deaths and injuries, see Reliefweb – earthquake Padang, Indonesia.

A Project Team of New Zealand engineers is working alongside Indonesian engineers to provide post earthquake building safety evaluations for the 250 damaged government buildings (schools, hospitals, and offices), as described below. The Project Team Log provides a record of their activities. Browse through their photo gallery page.

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Lateral spreading affecting the Sea-Front Road (Jl Samaudra) in Padang

A overview of the earthquake, containing a history of earthquakes and tsunami for the region, and reports from preliminary damage assessments, were provided by Dick Beetham (Project Team member and Engineering Geologist & Geotechnical Engineer at GNS Science).

The Project Team presentations illustrate the experience and the practical lessons for New Zealand, such as managing large volumes of rapidly generated field data, along with some recommended enhancements to the New Zealand Building Safety Evaluation processes. (see Presentation Schedule)

Additional related links: EERI’s activities, Sydney Morning Herald images

The New Zealand Response.

Early in the week of 5 October, New Zealand received a request from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Indonesia for 6 to 10 structural engineers to assist in advising local Pandang Public Works engineers on building safety assessments and demolition. UNDP are the chair of the Padang Urban Recovery Cluster Group, and are acting on behalf of the Government of Indonesia (GOI). Padang is a city of about 1 million people.

Earthquake Engineering NZ picked up the request via NZAID, and through IPENZ called for volunteer engineers from SESOC and NZSEE members. Over 30 engineers responded.

Following heavy demand for aid assistance from recent events in the Pacific (Samoa, Tonga, Philippines), NZAID had limited resources for responding to this additional request for New Zealand aid and assistance. NZSEE was requested to assist assemble and organise a team of engineers to be sent in as short a time as possible. NZAID undertook to fund the majority of the response, EQC, and Department of Building and Housing added further financial assistance. EQC appreciated the value of the learning opportunities, and recognised that the immediate post-earthquake building safety assessment experience would be a valuable addition to New Zealand’s post-earthquake knowledge. The experience and learning’s from this mission will be reported after the team returns.

To facilitate a rapid response, the majority of the Management Committee of NZSEE agreed to the use of the NZSEE Learning from Earthquakes arrangements. A New Zealand Padang Earthquake Assistance Project Team of ten volunteers was selected. This was finalised on the morning of Saturday 9 October as:

  • Dave Brunsdon, Team Leader (Kestrel Group, Wellington)
  • Jitendra Bothara (Beca, Wellington)
  • Mike Stannard (DBH, Wellington)
  • Dick Beetham (GNS Science, Wellington)
  • Roger Brown (CAL Engineering, Auckland)
  • Clark Hyland (Hyland Fatigue & Fracture Engineering, Auckland)
  • Warren Lewis (Lewis and Barrow Ltd., Christchurch)
  • Scott Miller (Silvester Clark, Wellington)
  • Rebecca Sanders (Synergine, Auckland)
  • Yakso Sulitio (Beca, Jakarta).

It is noted that all team members have volunteered their time for this mission. While expected to be an extraordinary learning experience for each one of the team, the significant cost to team members and their employers, is acknowledged and is very much appreciated by all concerned.

David Hopkins volunteered considerable time and energy into organising the mission but was unable to lead the team for personal reasons.

Dave Brunsdon is well equipped to lead the team. He has considerable experience assessing building safety following the Newcastle and Gisborne earthquakes, developing engineering support for New Zealand’s Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams, and leading the development of the NZSEE “Building Safety Evaluation during a State of Emergency: Guidelines for Territorial Authorities” (launched in Parliament in August 2009, see Publications).

On assembly of the full team in Padang, deputy team leaders were appointed with Mike Stannard overseeing liaison with other agencies and Jitendra Bothara overseeing development of technical processes.

The NZSEE Learning from Earthquakes Manual was adapted into an “Operation Manual: Padang Earthquake Engineering Assistance Project” to assist all involved with the mission.

The NZ Padang Project Team engineers, working along side Indonesian engineers, and at the direction of UNDP acting for GOI, have a task of providing post earthquake building safety evaluations. They will be supported by the Indonesian Disaster Management Agency (BNDPB), and Provincial and City Public Works Departments to make recommendations to the city and provincial government authorities on which buildings can be reoccupied and those that should be demolished. The New Zealand engineers recommendations will be on a “best endeavours” basis. The Governor of Padang has asked UNDP to provide a recovery action plan by 20 October 2009. The team is scheduled to return to New Zealand over Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October 2009.

Peter Wood
Acting President
NZSEE