Is Panama ready for a big one?
PANAMA. Panamanians tend to think nothing really bad will even happen to them. But a 6. 0 earth tremor early on Saturday morning and a...
PANAMA. Panamanians tend to think nothing really bad will even happen to them. But a 6. 0 earth tremor early on Saturday morning and a 5. 3 after tremor on Sunday shake reminded us again of the fragility of life. This dangerous trait still makes us ignore (along with the never-ending political scandals) the importance of knowing what to do in case of an emergency, both on individual and a collective basis.
An earthquake of magnitude 6.0 on the Richter scale lasting more than a few seconds is no joke.
This magnitude is considered strong and it could be destructive in areas up to about 160 kilometers.
The isthmus of Panama is on a mini tectonic plate called the Panama Block. This micro plate is surrounded by four great tectonic plates: the Caribbean plate in the north, the Nazca plate in the south, Coco’s plate in the southwest and the South American plate in the east. The north limit of the Panama Block is an overlapping zone known as the Deformed Belt North.
According to Eduardo Camacho, director of the Geosciences Institute of Panama University, this overlap is very active and has been for a long.
Back in 1882, a strong earthquake shook the cities of Panama and Colon and caused severe damage to the French Canal works. Similar quakes happened in 1904 and 1916. In April 22, 1991, a 7.4 magnitude earthquake caused a human disaster in a then forgotten and impoverished Bocas del Toro pre the real estate boom. 25 dead, over 400 injured and 1,700 lost homes.
“People think this phenomena doesn’t happen in Panama. This mentality must be changed, we cannot let events like take us by surprise. Panama is not immune to quakes”, said Camacho.
Arturo Alvarado, director of the National System of Civil Protection (SINAPROC) said that plans for a national emergency will be put in motion in two months.
What to do then? First measures are taken before hand. Check your home for unsecured TV sets, bookcases. Make emergency kits with flashlights, radios, water, food and blankets, medications and the such. Go around your house and check the structural integrity of the building.
In the event of the shock, if you are indoors, drop down, find cover under a sturdy desk or table and hold on to it. If outside, avoid power lines, trees and go to a clear area if possible. The SINAPROC emergency line is *335.