Caribbean must “move expeditiously” to prepare for massive earthquake – UWI

Haiti Earthquake

The earthquake in Haiti “should have been the wakeup call for a fundamental shift in regional mechanisms for coping with seismic hazards”.

PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad, Tuesday January 13, 2015, CMC – The Seismic Research Centre (SRC) of the University of the West Indies (UWI) is warning the region to “move expeditiously” towards building resilience amid predictions the Caribbean could be hit with an earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or greater.

“We must develop, legislate and enforce Building Codes using up-to-date seismic hazard maps based on the latest available science. Preparedness measures at the individual levels are insufficient and greater efforts are needed to facilitate self-resilience,” the SRC said in a statement as it marked the fifth anniversary of the magnitude 7.0 earthquake that ricked Haiti in 2010, killing an estimated 300,000 people.

The SRC said that the earthquake in Haiti “should have been the wakeup call for a fundamental shift in regional mechanisms for coping with seismic hazards”.

It said major earthquake disasters around the world have stimulated similar shifts and resulted in greater resilience to seismic hazards in these regions.

“This has not happened in the Caribbean and the region continues to be extremely vulnerable to seismic events,” the SRC said, adding “research suggests that the region is capable of generating an earthquake of magnitude 6.0 or larger every 3-5 years.

“Of more concerns, we are long overdue for a magnitude 8.0 earthquake, which has 32 times more energy than the Haiti event. In light of these sobering facts, it is imperative for the region to move expeditiously towards building resilience to such events,” it added.

The SRC said that while there have been advances in many areas, “the effectiveness of the implemented strategy from country to country still needs to be measured.

“The need for broad based impact assessments for seismic hazards and risks is now greater than ever with clearly established short term and long term objectives. Every year that passes without the necessary measures being in place is a year closer to a repeat of the Haiti disaster. Now is the time to be ready,” the SRC added.

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  • Teachem’

    Prepare for a Tsunami as well, caused by a massive earthquake. Cities like Port of Spain should be under mandatory evacuation as soon as an earthquake is felt! Community Unity is the key.

  • Phillip Goddard

    It would be useful if the forecast of a possible earthquake of 8.0 magnitude or greater was backed up by specific scientific observations of plate tectonic movements or other observations that would lead to such a conclusion.

  • abajan

    A seismologist recently stated that based on the period of time between previous great quakes in this region (the eastern Caribbean), it’s pretty much guaranteed that we will have such an occurrence sometime during the first half of this century. That means anytime within the next 34 years or so. (A great quake is one of magnitude 8.0 or higher.) So, even though some of us may have gone to the Great Beyond by the time it hits, most of our children and grandchildren will almost certainly experience it. Perhaps we need to start telling them about it, in a way that would not scare them silly but prepare them for the inevitable.

    Just a thought.