Earthquake Nepal - high rise apartment buildings




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Are high rise (apartment) buildings in Kathmandu Valley earthquake proof?

One of the questions after the 7.9 and 7.3 earthquakes of April/May 2015 is whether the high rise buildings that have been constructed in Kathmandu Valley are safe enough.

The answer is that some of them certainly are not and from most of them it is uncertain whether they will be strong enough to withstand a 8.5 to 9.0 earthquake. But given the fact that many high rise buildings already suffered a lot of damage after the 7.9 earthquake some 80 kilometers outside Kathmandu most high rise buildings probably won’t be strong enough to withstand a much more powerful earthquake.

It is questionable whether building guidelines have been followed correctly. Herewith a video of a modern building of only 7 stories which was not strong enough to withstand the 7.9 earthquake of April 25.

And a video of the state of several apartment buildings after the 2015 earthquakes.

There are some voices saying it might be wise to limit the height of building to only a couple of stories. Maybe a limitation of three floors is a little bit too strict, but for sure smaller buildings will be safer for the inhabitants of the building itself and its surroundings. Such buildings will be less likely to collapse during a very powerful and/or long-lasting earthquake and if they do, the chances are higher that all people get out before it collapses and the amount of rubble will be smaller and less likely to bury other buildings in the neighborhood.

In the mean time we advice (future) residents of high rise buildings to thoroughly check whether a building is considered to be safe enough or not. In case of any doubt, don’t buy or rent an apartment of office spaces in such a building. Besides that it is better to avoid older unsafe buildings especially when they are 4 to 10 stories high (f.e. in the Old Town, Gongabu, Baleju and similar areas full of unsafe buildings).

Owners of high rise buildings might have their buildings checked by foreign (f.e. Japanese) and unbribable engineers or the government should create other reliable ways of certificating safe high rise buildings. It is most likely that many of the current building will fail to pass.

Apparently the Nepali Government is not sure about their building codes as it has imposed a 2 month ban on house design approval and is working on stricter building codes and better monitoring / enforcement of those codes.
It is very sad the Nepali Government and many Nepali people "needed" such an earthquake before revising the building codes and construction manners as it was known for many years that a lot of buildings would not be able to sustain an huge earthquake.

Please also read:

- experts say the disaster should serve as a wake-up call about the dangers of high-rise buildings in a city with a history of earthquakes. - “No dynamic soil test has been conducted in Kathmandu to measure how the soil will react to seismic waves,” said Deepak Chamlagain, a geology professor at Kathmandu’s Tribhuvan University."

- Why the Nepal earthquake was far less damaging than feared / One thing all the researchers agree on is that this earthquake was not ”The Big One.”

high rise apartment buildings Kathmandu- Works underway at Park View Horizon Apartments in Basundhara, Kathmandu. The complex was severely damaged by the earthquake last year.

- Nepal disaster presages a coming megaquake and Geological Hell of Nepal Earthquakes May Not Be Over

- Tenants of High Rise apartment building "Park View Horizon" appeal government, developer for help

- Safety concerns for people living close to high-rises

- Demolition mooted for buildings flouting norms

- UN official says building laws need to be enforced in Nepal

- High-level taskforce to probe high-risers’ status demanded

- Two of 40 inhabited high-rises unsafe, 31 can be used after appropriate repairs, only 7 are safe to live in

- only 50 of 150 apartments in Suncity Apartments in Manohara are occupied, residents are scared and anxious

Apartment buildings and their status

Name Status Remarks
Park View Horizon, Basundhara Red  
Oriental Apartment Phase II, Kuleshwor Red  
Grande Towers / Sineru Serviced Apartments, Tokha Yellow On it is learned that this
 structure is only earthquake resistant up to M8
Retreat Serviced Apartment, Bijeshwori Yellow  
Silver City Apartment, Kalikasthan  Yellow Check video of Silver City during the earthquake
Signature Apartment I, Teku     Yellow  
Signature Apartment II, Teku  Yellow  
Cityscape Club House, Hattiban Yellow  
Cityscape Block B, Hattiban Yellow  
KL Apartment, Sano Gaucharan Yellow  
Binayak Apartment, Baluwatar Yellow  
Sun Rise Apartment, Nakhkhu Yellow  
Imperial Apartment, Sanepa Yellow  
City View Apartment, Bakhudol Yellow  
Mercury Sterling Apartment, Thado Dhunga Yellow  
Sun Rise Apartment, Dhobighat Yellow  
Kalash Apartment, Tahachal Yellow  
Metro Apartment, Kuleshwor Yellow  
Oriental Apartment Phase I, Kuleshwor Yellow  
Prestige Apartment, Chandol Yellow  
Central Park Apartment, Bishal Nagar Yellow Brochure doesn't tell to which magnitude
 the earthquake resistance applies
Grande Apartment, Dhumbarahi Yellow  
LP Apartment, Lazimpat Yellow  
Sun City Apartment, Gothatar  Yellow  
Ambe Residence, Chabahil     Yellow  
Downtown Apartment, Dhapakhel   Yellow  
Civil Apartment II, Dhapakhel  Yellow  
Guna Colony, Sina Mangal       Yellow  
TCH Tower Phase IV, Sitapaila Yellow  
TCH Tower Phase III, Pani Pokhari Yellow  
LLP Apartment, Pani Pokhari  Yellow  
Vibor Apartment, Kamal Pokhari  Yellow  
Westar Apartment, Balkumari        Yellow  
TCH Phase II, Thaiba Yellow  
TCH Tower, Lazimpat Green  
Bhat Bhateni Apartment, Bhat Bhateni Green  
Southern Height Apartment, Thaiba Green  
Dhumbarahi Apartment, Dhumbarahi Green  
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