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School buildings to be tested for quake resistance

The government will start a nationwide inspection on all school buildings for their earthquake preparedness, officials said Friday.

Based on the data collected, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology plans to order up to 20 percent of the subject buildings to adopt earthquake-resistant designs by 2015.

The nationwide overhaul comes after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11.

The last inspection was conducted in 2008 when an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit Sichuan in China killing 70,000 people. At the time, the adoption rate of earthquake-resistant designs stood at 13.2 percent among schools.

On Friday, the ministry conveyed a set of school safety guidelines, including those for building structure, during a meeting with school officials across the nation.

Under the plan, local educational offices have to complete the inspection on all the school buildings by May 20 and submit renewed safety plans.

Seaside schools and those located in regions where a 5.0-magnitude or more severe earthquake has occurred will be prioritized for the inspection, the ministry said.

“Construction works at schools have been carried out separately so far. However, we plan to adopt the tentatively named ‘Smart Green School’ system in which schools are required to consider every part of construction such as earthquake resistance and energy efficiency when it comes to new building projects,” said a ministry official.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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