On shaky ground


On shaky ground

By Brian Bonitto
Associate Editor ---
Auto & Entertainment

Friday, January 31, 2020

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JAMAICA dodged the proverbial bullet this week with earthquakes registering 7.7, 4.7 and 5.1 on Richter scale. The latter occurred on Wednesday, while others happened the day before. Their epicentres were off the island's coasts so there was no loss of life or major infrastructural damage.

“Don't panic. Just try to be cognisant of the environment around you. Panic causes chaos,” he told the Jamaica Observer's weekly Auto magazine.

“Try pulling off the road in a safe manner... No sudden braking, as this could cause collision,” he continued. “Once you find a safe place, exit the vehicle.”

An earthquake is the sudden movement of the earth's tectonic plates, resulting in shaking of the ground. This shaking can result in the damage of various structures such as buildings and further breakdown of the earth's surface.

Large earthquakes can take down buildings and cause death and injury, while those under the ocean can cause a tsunami.

In 1692 Port Royal was hit by an earthquake measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. The quake and the following tsunami caused most of the city to sink below sea level and resulted in the death of about 2,000 people. Another 3,000 people died in the days following, due to injuries and disease.

“The intensity will determine the outcome. Roads can open up and tall buildings can crumble. But in the event of an earthquake, try avoiding the coastlines as there can be a tsunami,” he said.

He had several 'don'ts' for motorists.

“No stopping on overpasses, underpasses or bridges. Stay clear of trees and downed powerlines, and remain in the vehicle until the shaking stops,” he said.

The RSU director said motorists should be “cognisant of aftershocks” and “be mindful of falling debris, rocks and landslides”.

“Listen to radio or check your cellphones for bulletins from ODPEM [Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management] and other people who are skilled in disaster preparedness,” he said.

Road Safety Unit promotes and fosters an orderly and disciplined traffic culture that is conducive to the development of a safe traffic environment through the conceptualisation, design and dissemination of a sustained programme of public information, education in schools, legislation, accident information and research.

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