Earthquakes Felt In Barbados; No Tsunami Threat

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Five earthquakes ranging from as low as 3.4 magnitude to 6.4 magnitude were felt across Barbados today, but there were no reports of damage.

And, while residents were urged to expect possible aftershocks, they were assured that there was no threat of a tsunami.

The assurance came from Acting Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Kerry Hinds, during an emergency press conference at its Warrens, St. Michael office today following the series of earthquakes.

Ms. Hinds outlined that official reports from the Seismic Research Centre in Trinidad indicated that there were four earthquakes recorded. The first of these, she said, was recorded at 7:02 a.m. measuring 5.7 magnitude; the second at 11:16 a.m. at a 6.4 magnitude; the third at 11:29 a.m. at 4.1 magnitude; and the fouth at 11:36 a.m. measuring 5.3 magnitude. A fifth earthquake was later recorded at 12:36 p.m. registering at a 3.4 magnitude.

The Acting Director said that the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre indicated that there was no tsunami threat to the island based on information received on the earthquakes.??However, she cautioned that there was still a possibility of aftershocks later today and in the coming days, and advised residents to be prepared for such an occurrence.

???It is important that you listen to the media and heed any information that may come to you. I would encourage you to please protect yourselves,??? she urged, adding that earthquakes occurred at any time and without warning.??Noting that today???s activity was unusual though the island was in a seismically active region, Ms. Hinds said that the DEM issued information about what to do during and after an earthquake.

She used the opportunity to remind persons that during the shaking they should remain indoors. ???Please do not run out of the building while there is shaking. Once the shaking has subsided, you can proceed outside, [but] do not use any elevators. [You should also] assemble in an open area away from any power lines or buildings to reduce the possibility of being hurt by any debris falling,??? Ms. Hinds explained.

She warned that running during an earthquake could result in people falling and causing injury to themselves. The Acting Director advised management of buildings to ensure that proper damage assessments were carried out by an engineer or property manager, before staff returned inside the building.

Meanwhile, Ms. Hinds stressed that Barbados needed to improve its preparedness and readiness for varying hazards, rather than the traditional hurricane hazard. She pointed out that the DEM advocated comprehensive disaster management recognising Barbados was susceptible to several natural and man-made hazards.

Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, Ronald Jackson, echoed similar sentiments. He said today???s earthquakes underscored the importance of building a national first responder capacity to manage seismic events in the island.

???We have to recognise that the earthquake threat is ever present. We have been heeding the warning from the Seismic Research Centre from as far back as February 2014 when a number of events ??? really underscored the importance that we have to move at pace. It is now a situation of urgency that we address the capacity of our first responders given the catastrophic nature that seismic events can leave us with,??? he stated.

Mr. Jackson noted that today???s earthquakes were felt in other parts of the region including Guyana, Martinique and Guadeloupe, but there were no reports of damage.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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