Citizens advised to rely on authorities for information during emergencies – ODPEM
Acting Director General, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Richard Thompson. Photo: JIS

KINGSTON, Jamaica - The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is advising citizens to rely only on the responsible authorities for information during emergencies.

“We want to say to persons, at all times just exhibit responsibility. Give the correct information and rely on the authorities,” said Acting Director General of the ODPEM, Richard Thompson.

He pointed out that the ODPEM is the responsible entity on matters related to disasters.

“As it relates to an earthquake, it is the Earthquake Unit (EQU) in conjunction with the ODPEM, [however], ODPEM remains at all times the National Disaster Coordinator, which is really the source for authoritative information around disasters and emergencies in Jamaica,” Thompson noted.

The acting director general’s comments followed reports on Friday morning that Jamaica experienced a 5.2 magnitude earthquake, however, no such event was recorded by the EQU.

He said the EQU has indicated that there was no locally felt earthquake in Jamaica and that the only information the Unit has within the seismic community was of another earthquake in the Philippines.

Thompson pointed out also that in times of disasters and emergencies, there is the National Emergency Operation Centre which coordinates the entire effort.

Thompson is also urging citizens to desist from making prank calls, especially in times of crisis and emergency.

“What it does is it stretches the already stretched emergency response system, especially our first responders [who act on] the false information or prank calls that say that something is happening and it is actually not so,” he said.

Meanwhile, Head of the EQU at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Kevin Tankoo, is reminding citizens and the media that the official information relating to earthquakes in Jamaica is channelled through the local authorities.

“So, unless you have seen a confirmed release from the authorities or some mention of a confirmed earthquake with a reviewed solution [magnitude, depth and location], that is the extent to which we can speak on it,” said Tankoo.

To determine if an earthquake occurs in Jamaica, the EQU looks at its sensors located across the island, he noted.


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