Major earthquake 'imminent,' could result in thousands of deaths

Many Utah schools 'unsafe' when it comes to earthquake safety (Photo: Matthew Michela / KUTV)

(KUTV) Ivan Wong, the lead author of a study that warns of a major Utah earthquake, presented the results and warned Utah parents that their children's schools may not be a safe place during an earthquake.

"It saddens me personally that Utah has not taken the measures to take care of the schools," said Wong.

In a meeting at the Utah State Capitol a first-time system for earthquake prediction research was presented. The forecast?

"We know enough about the Wasatch fault in particular that the earthquake threat is imminent," Wong said.

Results of the study show roughly a one-in-two chance of an earthquake with a magnitude of 5 or larger striking Utah in the next 50 years.

Why focus on the next 50 years?

According to Wong the population of the Wasatch Front is expected to grow by 2.8 million and 75 percent of the states economy is concentrated in Salt Lake, Davis, Utah and Weber counties.

An earthquake with a magnitude of 7 or higher could result in 2000 to 2,500 deaths, according to the study.

The forecast allows scientists to predict the probability of an earthquake, but not when it will occur.

"It could occur later today. It could occur tomorrow, days, months or years down the road."

"They are better prepared than many around the state when it comes to seismic safety," Salt Lake City School District responded to the claim of dangers in Utah schools, "In 1999, this district passed a bond to rebuild or retrofit all of its elementary and middle schools. A major component of that program was to increase seismic safety."

Utahns are preparing for the possibility of an earthquake. Nearly 1-million people are expected to participate in he annual Great Utah Shakeout, an earthquake drill, on April 21. See more about the drill at the shakeout website.

Follow Dan Rascon on Twitter @DanKUTVfor breaking news, updates and more.

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