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Series of Tremors Signal Need For Regional Cooperation on Earthquakes

Barbados earthquake

BRIDGETOWN — The head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) says a series of earthquakes in Barbados and other Caribbean islands this week underscores at the regional level, the importance of building national first responder capacity for dealing with seismic events.

On Thursday, Barbados experienced as many as six tremors, and the U.S. Geological Survey reported that they were also felt in the British Virgin Islands, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.

“We find that far too much interest is placed in climate change, not that we shouldn’t have it, but we have to recognise that the earthquake threat is ever present,” Ronald Jackson, CDEMA’s executive director, told a news conference.

“I think we have been heeding the warning from the seismic research center from as far back as, I would say February 2014 where a number of events from the Christmas period coming into 2014 and again earlier this year has really raised, I wouldn’t call them alarm bells, but certainly underscore the importance that we have to move at pace. That now it is a situation of urgency that we address the capacity of our first responders, given the catastrophic nature that seismic events can leave us with.”

The last major earthquake in the Caribbean was in Haiti in January 2010, which measured 7.0 magnitude.

Over 230,000 people were killed and an estimated 300,000 were injured in the disaster.  The quake also caused severe damage to infrastructure across the capital Port-au-Prince, displacing hundreds of thousands of people.

Jackson said CDEMA continues to work with its member states, as well as the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center, which is providing guidance on the expectation of what could occur across the member states in the event of a major disaster.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 50 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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