DEM calls for better disaster preparedness
In the wake of the series of earthquakes that shook the island today, a senior disaster management official has called for a higher level of awareness and better preparedness.
During a hastily called press conference just after noon, Acting Director of the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) Kerry Hinds, told members of the media she was not satisfied that residents were properly prepared in the event of a natural disaster.
“We need to improve our preparedness and our readiness as it relates to a multiplicity of these hazards. I know we traditionally focus on the hurricane hazards, but we at the DEM always applicate comprehensive disaster management because we are susceptible to a number of natural and man made hazards here in Barbados,” she emphasized.
Her comments came following the fourth of six earthquakes of varying magnitudes which struck the island within a four-and-a-half hour span. The US Geological Survey reported two more by mid-afternoon.
The first tremor measuring 5.7 on the Richter scale occurred at 7:02 a.m. Three hours later, a 6.4 earthquake struck at 11:16 a.m., quickly followed by a smaller 4.1 tremor at 11:29, while the fourth, measuring 5.3, hit seven minutes later. The USGS reported that the fifth, measuring 6.5, struck at 3:16 this afternoon, followed by the final one, a 5.2 quake, 20 minutes later.
The quakes were also felt in Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique and Guadeloupe, with the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico also experiencing tremors, according to the USGS.
Hinds alerted the country to the possibility of aftershocks, but ruled out a tsunami.
“Based on the information that we would have received from the Seismic Research Unit, there is a possibility that we can have aftershocks today or during the coming days…and we must be prepared for those. I would encourage you to please protect yourselves.
“There is no tsunami threat. We would have received that information regarding tsunami threats from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre, and based on the earthquake, they are saying there is no tsunami threat at this point in time. But persons still need to be mindful of the fact that there is a possibility that we can have further shocks and further secondary hazards may occur as a result of those shocks,” Hinds pointed out.
Hinds said the DEM had not received any reports of damage or injury from today’s quakes.
The last time Barbados experienced an earthquake was eight years ago, when a magnitude 7.4 quake rattled the island, causing panic among some residents and slowing traffic to a crawl as people sought to flee the capital.