March 11, 2011915Views

Friday, March 11 – His Excellency the Governor Boyd McCleary, CMG, CVO is urging residents of the Virgin Islands (VI) to become earthquake ready after the news this morning of a massive earthquake that hit near the Eastern Coast of Japan, causing major destruction and generating a tsunami.

            Governor Boyd McCleary, CMG, CVO who is also the Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council (NDMC) and who has overall responsibility for the Territory’s Disaster Management Programme said, “This event is the second major earthquake to have occurred within a one month period.  Residents of the VI are urged to pay close attention to the events unfolding to learn from the response actions being taken.  We live in a region that is vulnerable to these types of hazards and so our state of readiness must be at its highest at all times.” 

The Department of Disaster management (DDM) issued a release and sent text messages early this morning to key officials informing them of the event and advising them to monitor the situation.  They also informed the public that no tsunami watches or warnings have been issued for the VI.

DDM Director,  Sharleen DaBreo said, ” The Virgin Islands lie in a region that has the potential to be impacted by a major earthquake, similar in strength to the event that occurred in Japan. Earthquakes occurring in this part of the region can generate undersea landslides that can set off tsunamis.  Preparedness is the key to surviving these types of events.”


According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS) the earthquake occurred at approximately 1:46am local time with a magnitude of 8.9 and at a very shallow depth of 15.2 miles.  The epicentre was located 80 miles east of Sendai, Honshu, Japan. This earthquake has generated a tsunami and the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) has issued a tsunami warning for at least 50 countries and territories.

Japan and surrounding areas are continuing to experience powerful aftershocks, some measuring as strong as 7.1 and many coastal communities have been evacuated.  Seismologists have said that it is one of the largest earthquakes to hit Japan.  Scenes from the impact zones have been horrific, with an enormous surge of debris-filled water moving everything in its path.  Although the death toll continues to rise, officials in Japan say that it will take some time before the full extent of the destruction is known.

            Governor McCleary further said, “Japan has spent millions of dollars preparing for this big event by investing in mitigation techniques to strengthen infrastructure and to ensure residents are fully prepared.  The DDM is currently making preparations to execute a National Earthquake and Tsunami Full Scale Exercise that will take place this month.  Although the focus of this exercise is on schools and emergency response agencies I am urging all government departments and private sector organisations to take full advantage of the exercise and to test their plans and procedures for earthquake and tsunami response.  Every effort is being made, with strong support from the Premier and me to ensure that all Government Departments, agencies and schools have disaster management plans that are in compliance with the Disaster Management Act.”

            The Japan quake is being recorded as the 5th strongest in the world since 1900.  The DDM is reminding resident that if they feel an earthquake practice the ‘Drop, Cover and Hold On” technique.  If a tsunami warning is issued for the VI, residents are reminded to move to higher ground immediately and stay there until an “All Clear” is issued by officials.