UWI expert says big quake due, urges T&T to get ready

EarthquakeFilePhotoAPort of Spain, Trinidad (Trinidad Express) — People in Trinidad and Tobago are not prepared for a catastrophic earthquake like the 7.9 magnitude one which has devastated parts of Nepal.

This is according to University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (SRC) seismologist Dr Joan Latchman who told the Express yesterday that there was need for people to start preparing.

Latchman said that citizens do not have the necessary emergency items packed and ready to move out in an event of a major earthquake. She said that the building codes for individual dwellings are also not up to date.

A Building Code Committee was established in 2012 by Cabinet to set guidelines and rules to assist people when an earthquake occurs “to make ourselves knowledgeable on how we can protect ourselves”.

As of yesterday the latest figures of the disaster in Nepal were an estimated 4,000 dead and 7,000 injured. Several aftershocks were reported.

There are severe shortages of food, water, electricity and there is a growing concern for the outbreak of diseases.

According to Latchman, the Caribbean is well primed for delivering one of its larger magnitude earthquakes.

She said, “Great earthquakes occur every 18 or so months and here in the Eastern Caribbean we tend to see our earthquakes of that size (greater than 6.1 magnitude) every one hundred or so years.”

Latchman said that Trinidad had limited data on earthquakes since the last major one occurred in 1766. She said scientists have been working for decades to establish a time frame in predicting earthquakes but with the complexity and limited data available this is proving difficult to establish.

Latchman said that everyone in the country should focus on preparing themselves for the likelihood of an earthquake.

Information on preparation, gathering the necessary safety items and equipment and what to do during an earthquake is available on the SRC website.

Acting Director General Augustus Forde, of the Trinidad and Tobago Red Cross Society, said, “The Red Cross will be collecting funds as part of its relief efforts to be able to provide relief to those Trinbagonians in Nepal”.

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