Trinidad earthquake a wake-up call

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earthquake.jpgThe 7.3-magnitude earthquake that rocked Venezuela on Tuesday and which was also felt in Trinidad, Grenada and Barbados is a wake-up call for Jamaica and the Caribbean.

"The earthquake is another reminder of the need for Caribbean states to develop resilience in order to cope with all credible extreme events, including seismic and climatic extremes. Early reports from (the islands) indicate that strong to moderate shaking occurred, and that many members of the public, as well as institutions, such as radio stations, were caught unprepared by the strength and duration of the shaking," said disaster risk management expert Franklyn McDonald.

"It should be noted that Trinidad and Tobago, like Jamaica, is considered by many experts to be in a 'seismicity gap', that is, an area where a large earthquake can be reasonably expected at any time. Tuesday's event should cause members of the public, civil society groups, the private sector, and the Government to review their responses to the event and to seek to improve their earthquake-readiness measures as a matter of urgency," he added.

Jamaica's risk can be attributed, at least in part, to its sharing of the Enriquillo Plantain Garden Fault, which erupted to cause the devastation in Haiti in 2010.

The island also has a history of highly destructive earthquakes. The 1692 quake destroyed Port Royal, while a 1907 event claimed 1,000 lives in Kingston.

Yet, up to 2014, some 70 per cent of the Jamaica's building stock was said to be designed without professional inputs despite the 200 or so tremors that occur on the island annually.