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Disaster assessment (REX) of the Ubaye earthquake (April 7th, 2014)

Following the earthquake on April 7th, 2014 in the Ubaye region, State services (BREAL PACA with the BRGM's support) have launched a feedback procedure in order to characterize the earthquake and draw lessons from this event on characterizing procedures, on the efficiency of preventive information, on communication during a crisis and on management of a crisis. Conclusions were drawn on the basis of the on-site mission, and of the surveys of local population and of the main actors involved in the management of the crisis.

Find here the corresponding presentations made

The earthquake which occured in the Ubaye region on April 7th, 2014, at 9:27PM local time, is the largest earthquake recorded for ten years in mainland France. According to the RéNaSS, its local magnitude was of 5,2 MI and its maximal macro-seismic intensity was of 6 (slight damage) - this earthquake had only limited effects. The earthquake was felt in most of south-eastern France and in Italy, and caused great emotional stress among local populations.

Following this earthquake, State services (BREAL PACA with the BRGM's support) launched a feedback procedure in order to characterize the earthquake and draw lessons from this event on procedure characterizing, on the efficiency of preventive information, on communication during a crisis and on management of a crisis. Conclusions were drawn on the basis of the on-site mission, and of the surveys of local population and of the main actors involved in the management of the crisis.

Regarding the consequences of the earthquake, the geographical distribution of the damage occured shows local effects on some zones, and makes necessary better knowledge of the local earthquake hazard. In order to continue working on the feedback, a qualitative analysis of the damage files would be useful to identify damage categorization and corresponding costs, and would enable to set up and launch preventive actions on reducing construction vulnerability.

The data on the perception of the event and on the population's behaviour have highlighted anxiety about this earthquake, unawareness of safety instructions, and unawareness of the course of conduct to follow during this event.

The feedback also showed the population's general unawareness of preventive information documents. This means the content and format of these documents and of the corresponding regulations should be rethought.

Crisis communication on the event's major characteristics was quick and effective. It should undoubtedly have been continued in order to communicate on how the situation evolved and on the precise consequences of the earthquake. During future events, crisis communication should rely more on social networks, in order to gain more efficiency. Specific communication to the population itself about the proper behaviour required should also be launched.

The results of the crisis management procedure following the April 7th earthquake are positive. Amongst other things, one should take note of how fast security and emergency services intervened, of how present the people involved in managing the crisis were. The ability to share results fast among participants in the crisis management procedure on the consequences of the earthquake should also be noted. However, crisis planification should be developed and improved, in order to increase territory resiliency in the event of a future earthquake.

These lessons were compiled in a report, and led to the formulation of fifteen recommendations of which the aim is to grasp better management of this kind of event. The report can be downloaded on the Regional Observatory on Major Risks for the PACA Region website (http://observatoire-regional-risques-paca.fr ), in the "feedback" section.

It is now for prevention actors to look at the report's findings, in order for their actions to be more efficient, and for this territory to be more resilient in the event of a new earthquake.

This feedback was presented both at the local and at the national level, on December 3rd, 2014. The presentation brought together the following three missions, which worked in a complementary way on the lessons to learn from the earthquake : DREAL PACA -BRGM, BCSF et AFPS. Find here the presentations made during this event.

Carte macrosismique du séisme du 7 avril 2014 (Source : BCSF)

Bâtiment endommagé suite au séisme du 7 avril 2014  (source : BRGM)

Bâtiment endommagé suite au séisme du 7 avril 2014 (source : BRGM)

Ghislaine VERRHIEST-LEBLANC and Jean-Luc GENOIS (DREAL PACA)

Nathalie MARCOT and Samuel AUCLAIR (BRGM)