Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Stop unnecessary earthquake panic, Lyew-Ayee urges

Published:Friday | January 17, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Jodi-Ann Gilpin, Gleaner Writer

Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr, director of the Mona GeoInformatics Institute at the University of the West Indies, Mona, has urged Jamaicans not to panic amid numerous predictions of earthquake.

Several persons, including a prophet, have been making predictions that Jamaica is due an earthquake soon. Some persons have been making a January prediction against the background of earthquakes that devastated Kingston on Monday, January 14, 1907 and Haiti on Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

However, Lyew-Ayee said instead of building fear, it is imperative that Jamaicans are sensitised as to the importance of being prepared at all times.

"An earthquake can occur anytime between January 1 and December 31, so I want persons to bear that in mind. All the predictions and panic is nonsense, so we need to erase that," he declared.

"All this is because it is the anniversary of 1907 (Jamaica's last major earthquake) and so persons begin to panic and all sort of fears develop, but the important thing is to be prepared at all times and take the necessary precautions because we cannot make any predictions," he said.

While he was pleased with strategies being implemented so far to mitigate earthquake effects, he said there continues to be concern.


"I think we are moving in the right direction in terms of preparedness, however, I am more concerned with the immediate aftermath. Are our hospitals able to deal with the emergencies that will occur? Can our communication systems withstand those things? All these things are what we should be focused on," Lyew Ayee told The Gleaner.

"Areas of immediate concern for me are the airport - a lot has been done in terms of hurricanes and flooding, however, I am not sure much has been done should an earthquake occur - downtown Kingston, all the way to Newport West. It's a lot of reclaimed land; and I am also concerned about Portmore, so we need to work collaboratively to address that," he said.

"I urge policymakers to take the promulgation of the building code seriously. We need to get it out of the way and, overall, ensure that we take the necessary precautions," Lyew-Ayee added.