August 31, 2012
4.4 earthquake shakes SVG

No damage or injury was reported in connection with the earthquake felt here Tuesday night, a local disaster management official told SEARCHLIGHT on Wednesday.{{more}}

The Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, which records earthquake activity in the English-speaking Caribbean, said the temblor was located east of St Vincent, at 13.16°N and 60.89° W.

The magnitude 4.4 earthquake struck at 7:27 p.m. at a depth of 11 km (6.84 miles), the Trinidad-based centre reported.

And Howie Prince, Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) in Kingstown, said his office received “a lot of calls” from people who felt the quake.

“But we haven’t received any report at all or damage. None whatsoever,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“It wasn’t long and different people felt it in different ways. Some people sitting in the same place, one felt it and one didn’t,” Prince said of the quake.

Asked how common are earthquakes in the region, Prince said:

“I haven’t had any seismological explanation why there is an earthquake in or near St Vincent. What I can tell you, we are not exempt from earthquakes because we live in an earthquake belt; we live close to what are called disjointed plate tectonics.”

He said that earthquakes can occur anywhere in the region, and added that Trinidad gets “a fair amount” of the natural phenomenon and that there have been quakes close to St Lucia.

“So, it’s not beyond possibilities that there can be one near to us. Earthquakes are linked to underground happenings. Some of them are linked to volcanic,” he said when asked if there is a link between temblors and La Soufriere volcano, which last erupted in 1979.

“This one, as far as we know, as far as we are told, has not been directly linked [to La Soufriere]. But there are always indirect links because of the proximity. The proximity of an earthquake to an area that has an earthquake is a fact that people always wonder about,” Prince said.

Earthquake survival tips

The NEMO, Prince further said, advises persons who are inside buildings when an earthquake strikes to observe the “duck, cover and hold” protocol.

This means that people should get under sturdy furniture that does not have glass parts, and cover and hold their heads until the shaking stops.

When the shaking stops, they should exit the building as quickly as possible — without haste — and stay away from buildings, Prince said.

People who are outside during an earthquake should stay away from buildings, trees and power lines.

“That’s what we teach,” Prince said.

“We have had a significant period of earthquake education on radio and television for a while, so quite a few people must have been exposed to jingles on what to do if there is an earthquake and things of that sort,” he added. (KXC)