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Abdul-Akeem Sadiq
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Liz Joss
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Last modified: Thursday, March 17, 2011

IU expert: Japan's earthquake preparedness and response offer lessons for others

March 17, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS -- The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan last week caused tragic suffering and loss of life, but the situation could have been much worse if it weren't for the high quality of Japan's emergency preparedness and response, an Indiana University expert says.

Abdul-Akeem Sadiq

Abdul-Akeem Sadiq

Print-Quality Photo

Abdul-Akeem Sadiq, assistant professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, said Japanese authorities appear to have done an admirable job of identifying and properly handling the bodies of the deceased, providing shelter for the homeless and medical care for the injured, and maintaining public order.

Furthermore, enforcement of building codes mitigated the structural damage caused by the extraordinarily powerful 9.0-magnitute earthquake. And earthquake and tsunami preparedness drills were effective in evacuating people from vulnerable areas and saving lives.

Sadiq is working on National Science Foundation-funded research on mass fatality management, specifically in connection with the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Damage to poorly constructed buildings was severe in Haiti, and many bodies were buried in mass graves without being identified.

He said Japan's experience can benefit people elsewhere -- including in parts of Indiana, where a large earthquake along the New Madrid Fault could cause severe damage. "There are valuable lessons on preparedness that we can adopt from this experience," he said. "Disasters like this can happen in developed countries as well as in developing countries."

Sadiq is available to speak to news media about mass fatality management, emergency preparedness and response. He can be reached at 317-278-1013 or