A three-day exercise campaign on post-earthquake search and rescue, jointly initiated by Bangladesh and the United States (US, began in Dhaka on Tuesday.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Md Enamur Rahman inaugurated the exercise, jointly conducted by the Bangladesh Armed Forces and the US Army, titled 'Disaster Response, Exercise and Exchange-2021'(DREE) at the Army Golf Club in Dhaka.
The exercise will end on Thursday.
“Bangladesh battled the twin perils of super-cyclone Amphan and Covid-19 in 2020. Shelters were prepared socially and we evacuated more than 2.4 million people to the cyclone shelters within a day,” the State Minister said in his speech.
“We prepared almost 14 thousand and 500 additional shelters and provided masks and sanitizers to protect the spread of COVID19. 74 thousand volunteers were mobilized for the response, and the death toll was minimum,” he added.
According to the Meteorological Department, Bangladesh was shaken by 48 earthquakes from January 2016 to September this year.
Understanding the context and earthquake risk, the government has taken various initiatives including preparation and enforcement of National Building Code to follow the building construction rules for a safer and more resilient city, Enamur Rahman said.
“Considering the risk and recognizing the capacity gap, we have set our vision and strategies towards ‘Earthquake Resilient Bangladesh by 2070’.”
The main objectives of this three-day exercise are to gain a better understanding of the international approach to earthquakes and all types of disaster management. It also aims to increase coordination among partners to ensure a concerted effort to deal with disasters, to guide disaster management in the light of earthquake search and rescue, communications, medical shelters and relief activities.
Among others, the inaugural ceremony was addressed by Major General Reginald Neal, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Department, Secretary of the Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief, Pacific US Army.
This biggest earthquake and disaster management exercise in the Asia-Pacific region has been held in Dhaka since 2010. This year the exercise is being held following the Covid-19 health protocol. More than 300 representatives of 147 organizations from 23 countries are participating in it.
The countries are Bangladesh, Nepal, India, US, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Bhutan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Turkey, Fiji, Mongolia, Laos, Kenya, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Nigeria and China.
The participants are representing various ministries, agencies and NGOs. Besides, students and volunteers from different universities studying disaster management are taking part in the exercise.
This year the number of participants has been limited to ensure the Covid Protocol. In addition, this is the first time that physical and virtual participation has created an opportunity for participants around the world to join this exercise from home and abroad.
The inauguration ceremony was attended by senior military and civilian officials, military advisers and diplomats from the participating countries, among others.