3,300 buildings demolished in Groningen because of earthquake damage

A café in the Groningen village of Zeerijp damaged by earthquakes. Photo: Graham Dockery
This cafe in Zeerijp has been shored up for years. Photo: Graham Dockery

Over 3,300 buildings have been demolished in Groningen since 2012, when the strongest earthquake since gas drilling began hit the province, broadcaster NOS reported on Tuesday.

The buildings which were demolished were either structurally unsound or unsellable and most were private homes, NOS said, quoting figures from the government agency set up to deal with the damage.

The Nationaal Coordinator Groningen was established in 2015 to monitor and reinforce homes and other buildings located in the earthquake zone. There are no figures available to show how many properties were demolished before the NCG was founded, NOS said.

Locals are concerned about the loss of terraced and detached housing from the 1920s which is typical for the region, particularly in villages close to the quake epicentres.

So many buildings have been torn down in Loppersum that locals are concerned ‘only the Petrus and Paulus church will be left’, Cock Peterse of the local heritage foundation said.

What are described as ‘characteristic buildings’ can be taken down if the process to make them safe again will cost more than 150% of demolition and rebuilding.

In the nearby village of Overschild, some 80% of the buildings have already or are scheduled to be demolished.

More than 1,000 quakes have been measured in the province of Groningen since 1986, with the heaviest measuring 3.6 on the Richter scale. The quakes have been linked to extraction of natural gas from the Slochteren field, which was discovered in 1959.

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