All Over the Globe

Earthquake Prognoses: Is the Problem Settled?


ALMATY, Jan 17


�Seismology is the real industry of fear. It is financed occasionally and often without any results,� Professor Victor Inyushin, the head of the Expert Council of the International Anti-nucleus Movement Nevada-Semipalatinsk announced on Monday, January 17.

According to Inyushin, the present forecast service cannot notify the population of the beginning of an earthquake beforehand. No country in the world has safety operative forecast systems. This was proved by tragic events in Kobo, Turkey, India, China and other countries.

Inyushin said to journalists that since July 1999 seismic activity on the Asian platform was strengthening. Moreover, in 2000 they expect its further growth.

In June 1999 the International Symposium �Bioplasma � phenomenon of life� was held in Almaty. At the symposium new possibilities to predict earthquakes (middle-term prognosis � 1 to 2 months before earthquake and operative one � 6 to 48 hours before) were considered. Participants discussed the experience of the experimental laboratory of biophysical prognosis that exists since 1978. The laboratory supervises the area within the radius of 300 km from Almaty. In the same year the laboratory forecasted the earthquake in the Dzhalanash-Tyupsky region. Inyushin emphasized that if biophysical stations are established in seismic regions of the Asian platform, the forecast, determination of coordinates of the future epicenter and its seismic activity may be more accurate.

Victor Inyushin thinks that the biophysical earthquake monitoring is the most efficient and accurate method to forecast the underground calamity. He said that if scientists in turkey had used the biophysical prognosis, they could have avoided catastrophic consequences of the last earthquake.

The main problem in promoting of this method is the conservatism of seismologists, according to Inyushin. Often they do not accept new ideas.

In conclusion Inyushin stated that the Seismological Institute is the real monopolist and to count only on its forecasts is a real crime.

THE GLOBE also asked Askar Ospanov, deputy of the Seismological Institute director to comment of the topic:

Ospanov said that for the last 50 years seismological teams from practically all countries deal with the earthquake forecasts. Today one of the main conclusions is that there is no universal method to forecast the earthquake. Each earthquake is absolutely individual and has a number of peculiar signs. All seismologists all over the world came to conclusion that to settle the problem successfully it is necessary to watch a wide range of parameters.

Askar Ospanov numbered 35 seismological stations in the Almaty oblast. Each of them is watching over 50 seismic parameters. He emphasized that single observation, such Inyushin�s ones, are not efficient.

Ospanov called Inyushin�s activity �partisan war� that does not follow any instructions. They advertise only one, true method to forecast earthquakes, Inyushin believes.

The Seismological Institute analyzed all parameters of the biophysical method. The main conclusion is that only external factors, including humidity, temperature of the air and pressure, which have nothing in common with the earthquake parameters, affect the results of the biophysical forecast. Hence, it is difficult to find any useful information in the data of the biophysical method, on which Inyushin persists.

Askar Ospanov does not agree with Inyushin�s statement that the Seismological Institute is the authoritarian organization. The institute repeatedly offered to use the biophysical detectors at seismological stations. However, these offers were not responded to.

Well, no consensus found in the earthquake-forecast field. Maybe, it is not so important? In fact, it does not matter who forecasted. The main thing is that the prognosis is accurate and timely.

Fresh Russian drive on Grozny stalls, Europe urges political solution

GROZNY, Russia, Jan 17 (AFP)

Russia�s drive towards the centre of Grozny stalled Monday despite a fearsome artillery and aerial blitz on guerrilla positions, as visiting European lawmakers urged a political solution to the conflict.

A deafening bombardment resounded in the eastern districts of the besieged Chechen capital, and a thick cloud of smoke could be seen rising from the area as federal forces stepped up a fresh push to take Grozny.

In the past three days, Russian forces have stepped up their efforts to advance towards the centre but have managed to capture only a few houses, not an entire street let alone a neighbourhood, military sources told AFP.

�My guiding principle is to keep deaths to a minimum among my men. I couldn�t care less about Grozny and my career prospects and medals,� said an interior ministry lieutenant-colonel, who asked to remain anonymous.

�Maybe the operation is going slowly, but from my point of view, it is proceeding as it should,� he added. Nine men had been killed in the preceding 24 hours, military officials told Interfax.

In eastern districts of the city, Chechen fighters overnight launched another of their nightly attacks on Russian positions, while others tried to break out of the besieged city, the officer said.

Guerrillas meanwhile repulsed an overnight bid by Russian troops to storm Grozny�s main hospital after a bitter fire-fight, a spokesman for the Chechen presidency Said-Selim Abdulmuslimov told AFP by phone from Chechnya.

Capture of the hospital building would give the Russians an important strategic boost in the capital as it would allow them to fire down the main thoroughfare in Grozny, Victory Avenue (formerly Lenin Avenue).

Fierce battles also erupted Monday in the northwestern Staropromyslovsky district, which is partly controlled by the Russians, Abdulmuslimov said.

Moscow sent in troops to seize Grozny on December 25, but has made little headway in the face of entrenched resistance from the estimated 2,000 rebel defenders.

In Moscow, acting President Vladimir Putin defended Russia�s military campaign in breakaway Chechnya during talks Monday with a Council of Europe delegation critical of civilian losses sparked by the conflict.

He urged the group to judge Russia�s actions in the North Caucasus on facts and not propaganda, saying: �We want the international community to understand and judge the events in the North Caucasus not on the basis of propaganda but on facts, and real events.�

Russia �has been and will remain open to cooperation with our colleagues� in the West, the prime minister and interim head of state said at the start of talks with the European delegation, headed by British peer David Russell-Johnston.

�The situation in the North Caucasus is not easy but it is under control,� Putin said.

Russell-Johnston called Sunday for an immediate halt to the Chechen war and warned Russia�s suspension from the 41-nation human rights and democracy body could not be ruled out. However, it was too early to make a decision, he said Monday.

The delegation flies to the conflict zone Tuesday for talks with local leaders, including Ingushetia�s President Ruslan Aushev, a sharp critic of Moscow�s policies in the region.

The Council of Europe wants regional leaders, who also sit in the upper house of the Russian parliament, to play a greater role in resolving the conflict, now in its 15th week.

In a signal of Moscow�s determination to pursue the war to the bitter end, Russia has begun moving its military headquarters for the conflict to the eastern Grozny suburb of Khankala, the well-informed military news agency AVN reported.

The airport there served as a Russian military headquarters in Chechnya during the 1994-1996 war which ended in humiliating defeat for Moscow.

Meanwhile, Russian warplanes and helicopter gunships had carried out 110 missions over the last 24 hours, bombing Grozny and rebel hideouts in the mountainous south, Interfax quote military officials as saying.

Case against deposed Pakistani premier held back by more delays


Deposed Pakistani premier Nawaz Sharif appeared before an anti-terrorist court on Monday in a treason and hijacking case dogged by lengthy delays.

Sharif and six other officials who were detained after army chief General Pervez Musharraf seized power in a coup three months ago have still not been charged.

Hundreds of riot police stood guard Monday outside the courtroom as Sharif and his co-accused appeared.

They are expected to be charged with treason, hijacking, kidnapping, criminal conspiracy, attempted murder and collecting arms to wage war against Pakistan.

If convicted they could face the death penalty.

After 50 minutes Judge Rehmat Hussain Jaffri adjourned the hearing until Tuesday, ordering the case to be shifted to a larger courtroom in the Clifton area of Karachi.

Last week a more senior High Court judge refused to hear the case after complaining about the presence of intelligence officials in the courtroom. He passed the hearing back to Jaffri, who was the original judge first appointed.

One of the defendants, Syed Ghous Ali Shah, formerly Sharif�s chief advisor in Sindh province, was sick and not present in court on Monday.

�We have been told by the authorities he is suffering from a fever,� said his lawyer Aftab Farrukh.

�Initially I was worried because he has a history of heart ailments but he is going to be all right I am told.�

The case against the former prime minister relates to the night of the coup, when Sharif is accused of preventing a Pakistan International Airlines flight carrying Musharraf and nearly 200 other passengers from Sri Lanka from landing in Karachi.

The plane only landed after the army seized control of the airport. Within hours Musharraf had assumed sweeping powers and detained Sharif.

Sharif has consistently denied the accusations.

Later Monday one prosecutor, one defence lawyer and a court official will go to the Civil Aviation Authority to make a recording of audio tapes of the conversation on the night between the pilot and the Karachi control tower.

The process is expected to take up to eight hours.

Chief prosecutor Raja Qureshi accused the defence of delaying the case by arguing about evidence.

�We are ready and even today we are ready with everything,� Qureshi told reporters after the hearing.

All Over the Globe is published by IPA House.
© 1998 IPA House. All Rights Reserved.