Throwback to the 1914 Bengkulu Earthquake

PUBLISHED,- Bengkulu is the name of a province located in the Sumatra Islands, which has an area of 20,130 KM. The Bengkulu area itself is one of the very historical areas in the Sumatra area, because there are historic buildings such as the British Fort which total 5 in the Bengkulu area. Besides that, the Bengkulu area is also nicknamed the Earth Rafflesia because of the many endemic flora. But did you know that Bengkulu has experienced an earthquake in the past. On this occasion the author will discuss the earthquake disaster in Bengkulu in 1914.

The Bengkulu area itself is actually in an area that is prone to natural disasters in the form of earthquakes. This is due to the position of Bengkulu Province in the meeting zone of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian tectonic plates. In addition, there are also the Mentawai and Semangko faults in the east which are the cause of earthquakes around the North Bengkulu region. These two things are the cause of the earthquake in the Bengkulu Province area.

In the catalog “Southeast Asian Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering volume V” published in June 1985, on June 26, 1914 the Bengkulu area experienced a fairly severe earthquake. There are 4 areas that were badly affected by the earthquake that occurred. The four areas are Kepahiang Regency, Seluma Regency, Manna City area, the capital of South Bengkulu Regency, and Seluma Regency area.

The earthquake disaster in the Bengkulu area in 1914 claimed at least 20 people died and 20 people were injured. Even though there were very few victims from the earthquake, the material damage was the most severe impact of the disaster. This is because almost all buildings made of stone, especially in the Kepahiang area, suffered severe damage.

What’s interesting about this incident, based on the records of the “Southeast Asian Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering volume V”, was that there were no wooden buildings damaged by the earthquake that occurred in the incident. However, it is very unfortunate that it was not explained what kind of wooden buildings were resistant to the Bengkulu earthquake that occurred in 1914. Indeed, there was research in 2010 entitled “Development of Vernacular House Typology and Its Response to Earthquake Hazards” written by Iwan Sudrajat and team, showing that the Rejang House in Ulu Village, Bengkulu Province is very resistant to earthquake shocks. Rejang house itself is a traditional house that comes from Bengkulu.

From the incident of the 1914 Bengkulu Earthquake, it proves the importance of building construction that is in accordance with the geographical conditions of a region. Of course this has been done by our ancestors through the construction of traditional houses that are earthquake resistant. In this modern era, of course, there are many choices for earthquake-resistant houses, which of course also have attractive aesthetics. So if DC friends want to build a house or other property, it is very important to pay attention to the condition of the surrounding area and the existing disaster threats. It aims to make a decision on the model of the building that we will build.

Author: Abdurrahman Heriza

Editor: Lien Sururoh


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