More evacuation drills needed, say experts

A construction expert said that well-constructed high-rise buildings in Jakarta could stand an earthquake up to a magnitude of 8, if the epicenter was not in Jakarta.

However, an architect said that a lack of emergency procedures from building management meant that casualties and injuries could still occur. He suggested that workers should demand their right to safety and emergency procedures in their offices.

Ahmad Juhara from the Jakarta branch of the Indonesian Association of Architects said Thursday that office workers should demand standard operational procedures for emergencies and also evacuation drills.

"There should be a person designated to manage emergency situations," he said.

Jakarta was among the cities affected by the 7.3-magnitude earthquake that struck the southern coast of West Java.

Office workers rushed out of their buildings through emergency stairwells. "Yesterday's quake had a magnitude of 7.3, if it reached 8.0, which is 10 times bigger, buildings in Jakarta would still stand," said the chairman of the Association of Indonesian Construction Experts, Davy Sukamta.

However, Davy said that residential houses were more prone to damage as they were not usually designed to weather earthquakes.

Ahmad said disaster preparations should be included in the initial stages of building construction and should be handled by certified construction services.

"There should be emergency stairwells that can accommodate the number of people in the building and an assembly area downstairs," he said.

"I was at the doctor yesterday and saw a man who was treated because his foot got stuck in an escalator during the earthquake. Elevators should also be shut down *during earthquakes*, except for one that can be used by firefighters," he said.

Project director and the general manager of PT Buana Sakti, and the owner of the Sampoerna Strategic Square building in Sudirman, said his company had a risk control team that was drilled to take command in emergencies.

"There are people who are responsible for giving announcements and others who guide tenants to safety," he said

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