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7.3 Quake sends SVG into panic

7.3 Quake sends SVG into panic


In the aftermath of a powerful earthquake that was felt in St. Vincent and the Grenadines yesterday, Thursday, at around 3 p.m., the man charged with emergency management here says that there is no need for Vincentians to fear that the seismic activity will trigger volcanic activity.

“There is no need to fear an eruption, Soufriere isn’t showing any increased activity,” said, Howie Prince, the Director of the National Emergency Management organization (NEMO).

Prince said that since the day before, Wednesday, when an earthquake of magnitude 5.2 was felt at about 10:18 a.m., people here had been expressing concern about La Soufriere.

The Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies reports that Thursday’s earthquake, with a magnitude of 7.3 occurred off the east coast of Martinique with a focal depth of 121 km, and was also felt in Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Guadeloupe and even as far away as Venezuela and Colombia.{{more}}

Speaking to SEARCHLIGHT on Thursday afternoon, Prince said that they had begun to receive reports from around the island. However at press time it was too soon to have a full assessment of any damage that the earthquake may have caused.

“We have received reports of broken windows, and we have an engineer inspecting the Government administration building, to make sure it is safe,” Prince said.

Prince told SEARCHLIGHT that he believes that the greatest damage the earthquake may have caused is psychological, because people were scared.

“Any body could tell you, it is the biggest earthquake ever felt in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Prince said.

One woman told SEARCHLIGHT, “I thought my life was over. I live in a third floor apartment, and when the building started shaking and my ornaments starting falling off my shelves, I thought the building was going to collapse on top of me.”

When the shaking started some people bawled out, grabbed their friends, and clasped their hearts, as buildings and vehicles danced, for what some believed to be minutes, but it was actually just about 60 seconds.

Cans, broken bottles and boxes on supermaket floors bore testimony to the drama that had taken place minutes before.

Adding to the distress, was when persons tried to call their loved ones to make sure they were safe, only to realize that both mobile networks were down, for a short while.

Prince said that a full assessment will be done, and a press conference was expected to be called before the end of the day.

At the time of the earthquake, Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves had just completed a tour of the new prison facility at Belle Isle.