Trinidad is the region’s capital when it comes to earthquake monitoring, and that capital has issued a bleak warning, which is being picked up in St John’s.
Director General of the Red Cross Jeff Martin and Acting Director of the National Office of Disaster Services yesterday advised residents in Antigua & Barbuda to take seriously the prediction made by acting Director of the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, Dr Joan Latchman. She has warned that the region is due an 8.0 earthquake any day now.
Eight point zero refers to a measurement on the Richter Scale, which gauges tremors in steps of 10. The website www.essortment.com puts it this way, “A magnitude 5 earthquake would result in 10 times the level of ground shaking as a magnitude 4 earthquake.”
It also means that the shaking predicted by Dr Latchman would be 10 times more violent than that experienced in Haiti in January.
“The magnitude that we’re thinking of there, anything can happen. We try our best to be prepared as possible and hope for the best,” said Martin, who also said that Antigua & Barbuda has so far managed strong quakes fairly well and that building practises which are crucial to minimising the effects of a quake, have improved tremendously because of rebuilding forced by hurricanes.
“But we cannot predict what will happen in what is coming, so all we can tell our people – if it will happen – is to be prepared and keep themselves in a position where they can be safe,” Martin said.
He added that being safe would depend on how well people have studied the correct ways to react to the double threat of a tremour and tsunami. Earthquakes, which displace enough ocean water, create tsunamis.
Two strong earthquakes have hit Antigua & Barbuda in the last 36 years – one in 1974 and a 7.3 quake on the afternoon of November 29th, 2007.
Dr Latchman’ forecast follows a 5.1 tremour which hit Trinidad & Tobago on Sunday.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)