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Jan 28, 2020

Earthquake Sent Tsunami Fears across the Country

A seven point seven magnitude earthquake struck earlier today about eighty miles from Jamaica, shaking several Caribbean islands, including Cayman and as far away as Miami. There were several aftershocks, including one the U.S. Geological Survey said had a magnitude of six point one. Based on images shared online, the earthquake caused minor damage in Cayman Islands but fortunately there are no reports of lives lost. A Tsunami watch was issued for a number of countries in the region, including Belize. But as quickly as it was issued, an all clear was declared.  We spoke with National Coordinator of NEMO Shelton Defour today and he explained that NEMO and its partners had to act quickly to notify the country.  He says that while the all clear is called off, as a country we still need to be alert, but don’t give in to fear.


On the Phone: Shelton DeFour, National Coordinator, NEMO

“There was an earthquake off Jamaica this afternoon, a seven point seven earthquake which triggered an alert by the tsunami Warning Center which comes through the national meteorological office to NEMO to say that an earthquake has occurred of seven point seven and it is likely to affect the following countries in the area, Jamaica, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Belize, Mexico and Guatemala. So, NEMO had to do a quick release in terms of a verbal communication to the public via Love FM of a possible tsunami watch for a possible tsunami with wave height of point three meters to one meter high which is about one foot to three feet in height and for people not to panic. That wave was expected within an hour or so; that period has elapsed and the tsunami Center when it issued its second notice or alert said that there was no change to the height of the waves that were expected. When we were going through the continuous notification of calling etc, we were informed about fifteen minutes later that an all clear was issued because there was no threat from any tsunami which was expected to develop as a result of that earthquake. It was a rapid, very intense situation because it was occurring fast because they said it could occur between five minutes to an hour this could be the situation you are facing. So, we had to go quickly into action using technology to message and things like that.  These earthquakes are very unpredictable. We cannot issue pre-warnings to say expect an earthquake or this is a likely area or this is what we should see happening – that will not happen during an earthquake. As a country, we have to be vigilant and alert at all times. Fortunately, we are not on a direct path; a fault line does run south of Belize and to the north of Belize, so we will get tremors and impacts like tsunami wave. We don’t expect thirty feet, forty feet waves coming in at three, four hundred miles an hour like we see in the Pacific. We don’t want people to panic to that extent. But we will get ripple effect such as wave action, one foot or two feet and the likes, hopefully not higher than that. So far we are continuous in our engagement with the Chief Met and our programme to getting people more alert and prepared to deal with earthquakes and tsunami.”

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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