Description of the disaster
An earthquake of 5.9 magnitude hit North West Tanzania on Saturday 10th September, 2016, about 44 km from Bukoba town, on the western shore of Lake Victoria. The earthquake struck at around 15:27 local time East African time (12:27 GMT).
Based on initial reports, the quake was shallow, occurring at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles).
Shallow quakes generally tend to be more damaging than deeper quakes. Seismic waves from deep quakes have to travel farther to the surface, losing energy along the way, while the shaking from shallow quakes is more intense.
The quake hit near the shore of Lake Victoria and the tremors rippled as far as western Kenya and parts of Uganda, both of which share the waters of Lake Victoria and as far as Rwanda.
The Tanzania Red Cross Society (TRCS) reported that there was a light after shock on the Sunday 12th of September.
There is also a threat of cracked walls which may collapse. Moreover, it has started raining in the area. East Africa's Great Rift Valley runs along a geological fault line though major earthquakes there are rare. In 2007, a magnitude 6 quake struck the Tanzanian town of Arusha, east of Bukoba. For more information, see tectonic summary.
According to assessments done by the Tanzanian Red Cross Society (TRCS) in Bukoba township, initial assessment report identifies the following impacts:
- 20 deaths reported (13 adult, 7 children)
- 269 people injured
- 905 houses totally destroyed
- 1124 houses heavily to partially damaged (deep cracks)
- The quake caused a lot of panic among the population, psycho social impact (trauma) and both the directly and indirectly affected were disoriented.
Residents carried injured casualties into waiting cabs while others fanned victims sprawled on the ground. The data on the impacts above covers township Bukoba, and TRCS are still collecting data for Bukoba rural.
In terms of local coping mechanisms, the TRCS reports that the local communities are trying to host the affected families, however the large number is beyond the ability to assist. Therefore, many of the affected households are staying in the open areas close to their houses. This is also done since they are afraid that their belongings will be looted. This coping mechanism exposes them to environmental threats and other health risks.
According to the USGS hazard analysis, it is estimated that the earthquake will mainly have strong impact on Bukoba, Katerero and Kyaka and that these areas in the yellow category of estimated fatalities (see figure on estimated fatalities below).1The impact can is based on the fact that the majority of the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquakes, though some earthquake resistant structures exist.