The British Virgin Islands will join several other countries
and territories in testing their tsunami readiness during the simulation
exercise, Caribe Wave/Lantex 2015, scheduled for Wednesday, March 25.
The exercise is geared towards improving tsunami
preparedness efforts in the Caribbean and adjacent regions, including U.S. and
Canadian Gulf as well as east coasts.
The Department of Disaster Management (DDM) is coordinating BVI’s
participation in the exercise.
DDM’s Training Officer, Ms. Carishma Hicks, is encouraging
widespread participation in this year’s exercise. “We are strongly encouraging the entire
population to utilize this opportunity to test their earthquake and tsunami
plans or procedures. This year’s scenario simulates a magnitude 8.5 earthquake
located just north of Panama in the southwest Caribbean Sea”.
The North Panama Deformed Belt has been the cause of several
earthquakes that have generated tsunamis in the Caribbean. The tectonic complexity of this Belt can
trigger motion in two separate faults lines, the frontal thrust component and
the strike-slip motion, which according to scientific models can have
significant impact on the entire Caribbean basin.
According to the DDM Training Officer, the national
simulation exercise also presents an opportunity to evaluate the recently
approved Mass Facility Plan, operational readiness of the National Emergency
Alert and Broadcast System and the response from the national search and rescue
In May 2014, the BVI received tsunami ready recognition from
the United States National Weather service. This Tsunami Ready programme seeks
to ensure that countries which are vulnerable to tsunamis, undertake measures
to reduce the potential for disastrous consequences in the wake of a
tsunami. Testing of the BVI’s tsunami
readiness takes on even more significance when considered against the backdrop
of predictions of very large magnitude earthquakes that could affect the region.
The 2010 Haiti and Chile earthquakes and tsunamis have
reminded the world again of the urgent need to be more prepared for these
events. Scientists are particularly concerned about the possible generation of
a catastrophic tsunami on the scale of the 2004 Indian Ocean disaster.
Persons wishing to participate in this exercise should
contact the DDM at 468-4200 for registration and guidelines. Caribe Wave/Lantex
2015 is sponsored by the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration (NOAA) and the United States National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation
Programme (NTHMP), which is a partnership of 29 states and territories and
three federal agencies.
Photo – Employees of
Ogier Fiduciary Service (BVI) Limited assembled at safe location during a
previous simulation exercise. Photo Credit: Department of Disaster Management.