ST. AUGUSTINE, Trinidad & Tobago: Caribbean governments are being warned that they should adequately prepare their countries to deal with earthquakes with a bigger magnitude than the one that devastated Haiti last week.
University of the West Indies seismologist, Dr. Joan Lutchman, said the Caribbean has been hit with powerful earthquakes in the past and will again.
“One day it will happen…the hazard is real, the earthquakes that can devastate the region can occur and one day (they) will occur,” said Dr. Lutchman. “Earthquakes will continue to occur, we are recording small earthquakes all the time, sometimes once a month, they are large enough for some people to feel them, so we know the processes are continuing.”
Lutchman warned Caribbean countries that the earthquakes would be disastrous “only if we do not cater for (them)”, and attributed the devastation in Haiti to several factors.
“It occurred at shallow depth, it occurred not far from Port-au-Prince, there is a large population in Port-au-Prince and the housing stock is very poorly constructed. So you have a high density population in an area that experienced extremely high shaking along with the poor construction.
“If you don’t have all these things coming into play, (the earthquake) does not necessarily have to be ugly,” said Lutchman, noting that Japan has been able to deal with earthquakes with stronger magnitudes than what occurred in Haiti.
“You have earthquakes occurring in Japan of that kind of magnitude more regularly than you have in the Caribbean but you don’t see that kind of disaster in Japan anymore because they have learned from their experiences and they have catered their development (to be) consistent with their hazard,” Lutchman said.