Virgin Islands urged to be earthquake ready
TORTOLA, Virgin Islands, Monday March 14, 2011 – Governor Boyd McCleary has urged residents of the Virgin Islands to get themselves earthquake ready following the massive quake that hit near the eastern coast of Japan last Friday that generated a destructive tsunami. He has also assured that the government is doing its best to prepare the country’s emergency response agencies as well.
Although earthquakes cannot be predicted, Governor McCleary, who is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) and who has overall responsibility for the Territory's Disaster Management Programme, pointed out that the Japan quake was the second major earthquake to have occurred within a one-month period and said residents should take heed.
“Residents of the VI are urged to pay close attention to the events unfolding to learn from the response actions being taken…Our state of readiness must be at its highest at all times."
The Director of the Department of Disaster Management (DDM), Sharleen DaBreo, added that the Virgin Islands lie in a region that has the potential to be impacted by a major earthquake, similar in strength to the event that occurred in Japan.
“Earthquakes occurring in this part of the region can generate undersea landslides that can set off tsunamis. Preparedness is the key to surviving these types of events,” she said.
Governor McCleary noted that Japan had spent millions of dollars preparing for an event of this magnitude by investing in mitigation techniques to strengthen infrastructure and to ensure their residents were prepared, and officials here are also getting themselves ready.
“The DDM is currently making preparations to execute a National Earthquake and Tsunami Full Scale Exercise that will take place this month. Although the focus of this exercise is on schools and emergency response agencies I am urging all government departments and private sector organisations to take full advantage of the exercise and to test their plans and procedures for earthquake and tsunami response,” he said.
“Every effort is being made, with strong support from the Premier and me to ensure that all Government Departments, agencies and schools have disaster management plans that are in compliance with the Disaster Management Act."
Japan’s 8.9 magnitude tremor last Friday was one of the largest earthquakes to hit the country. It was recorded as the fifth strongest in the world since 1900.
Meantime, BBC is reporting that technicians are battling to stabilise a third reactor at the quake-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, which has been rocked by a second blast in three days.
The plant's operators have resumed pumping seawater into reactor 2 after a cooling system broke.
They warned of a possible meltdown when the fuel rods became exposed after the pump stopped as its fuel ran out.
A cooling system breakdown preceded explosions at the plant's reactor 3 today and reactor 1 on Saturday.
The latest hydrogen blast injured 11 people, one of them seriously.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company is playing down any health risk, saying thick containment walls shielding the reactor cores have remained intact.
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