6.3 quake rocks TT
Sunday, October 13 2013
People ran out of their homes, some scrambled and ducked under tables and others stood in doorways as an earthquake with a 6.3 magnitude, the strongest in the last sixteen years, rocked Trinidad and Tobago on Friday night.
The tremor was felt from Diego Martin to Mayaro. Car alarms rang out, electricity lines swayed, dogs howled as the earth shook for almost a minute. When it was over, there were reports of jammed telephone lines as persons tried to contact relatives and friends to ensure they were okay.
The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre (SRC) reports the earthquake had a depth of 60 kilometres and occurred at about 10.10 pm, north of the Paria Peninsula, Trinidad. It was also felt in Guyana and Grenada.
Acting director of the SRC, Dr Joan Latchman, yesterday confirmed the “quake” was the largest to hit TT since 1997 with that one measuring 6.1, south of Tobago. She said there was one aftershock recorded at about 11.52 last night, measuring 4.9 on the Richter scale.
Lucthman said an earthquake of Friday night’s magnitude was not unexpected because in the last 100 years major earthquakes occurred every ten to 15 years. She said in 1935 and 1945 there were earthquakes in the Gulf of Paria ranging in the 6 magnitude as well as in 1964, off the north coast in the Toco area. In 1968 a quake with a magnitude of 7 occurred in the Paria Peninsula. Latchman said in 1974 there was a major quake as well, then in 1988 and then in 1997. She said since then another one was expected.
Earlier this year, Latchman said the country should brace for a very big earthquake. Yesterday she said Friday night’s quake was not the big one.
“We are in a region that could experience an earthquake with very large magnitudes. In 1766, on October 21, there was a very damaging earthquake with a magnitude of 8 so we know the region can deliver large earthquakes,” she said.
Latchman said as TT develops, it must put measures in place such as a proper building codes, so there will be little damage when a big earthquake hits.
“We need to have a building code, have it legislated and enforced ensuring that the recommended measures are adhered to as well as ensuring the older structures are retrofitted so it can withstand a significant magnitude earthquake,” she said. She also advised that the population not wait for the authorities to help them be prepared for an earthquake. She said as citizens in a seismically active zone, residents should make sure their families and communities were prepared to deal with earthquakes.
According to UPSeis website, an earthquake measuring between 6.1 to 6.9 may cause a lot of damage in very populated areas as it is classed as a strong quake. Office of the Disaster Preparedness Management’s (ODPM) Chief Executive Officer, Dr Stephen Ramroop said there were no reports of any damage from Friday night’s “quake”. He said no reports of damage after an earthquake of this magnitude showed that the country has good building stock and that the country was well prepared for any disaster.
“Last night (Friday) I got a better idea of our readiness and I felt very comfortable with how the police were on the scene, the helicopters were in the air. We had the Fire Services calling in, making their checks, the disaster units and the ham radio operators were giving feedback on the country and in half and hour after the quake, we were getting reports from all around the country,” he said.
Many citizens flocked to the various social networking sites to share their various experiences. Many said they were still shaken up as they felt the earthquake would have never ended. Others were disappointed they missed it — those who were asleep or were at the time driving. One woman, who lives in Arima with her family said she was not sure what it was at first but then her bed started to shake violently and she grabbed her mother and they both went down on their knees and started to pray.
“You never know what could happen when these things occur so it is best to just go down on your knees and start to pray,” she said.
Another woman, Crystal Ann from Diego Martin, said it was a really frightening experience because her dogs ran in the house and pictures that hung from her walls started falling one by one.
“I have felt earthquakes before but nothing like this, it was really strong, I am surprised that there was no damage reported after something like that,” she said.
According to the Earthquake Track website yesterday, around the world there were 83 earthquakes within 24 hours up until press time with the last one measuring 6.4 in Khania, Greece.