Magnitude 5.6 Earthquake Rattles Jamaica, Felt Across the Caribbean

Jamaica experienced a magnitude 5.6 earthquake on Monday, causing tremors felt not only on the island but also in Haiti, the United States Minor Outlying Islands, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, and Cuba. While no serious injuries or fatalities have been reported thus far, some buildings have suffered damage, leading to the closure of schools in certain areas.

The European Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) reported that the earthquake originated at a depth of 17 kilometres (10.56 miles) around 10:57 am local time. This seismic event follows a magnitude 5.2 earthquake that occurred in September, heightening concerns among observers who note that strong earthquakes are rare in Jamaica.

Throughout the affected regions, employees in corporate areas evacuated their buildings and sought out safe zones until the earthquake subsided. Prime Minister Andrew Holness issued a statement urging citizens to remain calm, emphasising that no significant damage or loss of life has been reported. He also called for patience as damage assessments are conducted.

Jamaica promptly activated its earthquake protocol, with the primary challenge stemming from a series of electrical outages caused by damage to powerlines and infrastructure in certain regions. The nation is known for experiencing numerous minor earthquakes, averaging 200 per year. However, the recent back-to-back strong earthquakes have raised concerns among observers.

Notable seismic events in Jamaica’s history include the devastating Port Royal earthquake in 1692, which caused a portion of the town to sink into the sea. In 1907, the capital city of Kingston was struck by a major earthquake that claimed the lives of 1,000 people. Another significant event occurred in March 1957, predominantly affecting Western Jamaica.

Jamaica shares the Enriquillo–Plantain Garden fault zone with Haiti and the Dominican Republic, rendering all three nations vulnerable to seismic activity. The proximity of these countries within the same region underscores the need for robust disaster preparedness and mitigation efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of their populations.

Morocco Faces the Challenge of Rebuilding Earthquake-Hit Villages while Preserving Traditional Architecture

One month following a destructive 6.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Morocco, the aftermath of the disaster still haunts the villages nestled around the Atlas Mountains. As the North African country embarks on the path to recovery, the focus now lies on rebuilding while simultaneously ensuring that centuries-old Moroccan villages are made resilient to earthquakes without compromising their cherished traditional architecture.

The remnants of the earthquake continue to mar the villages, with rubble strewn across the landscape. The nation must now confront the arduous task of reconstruction, tackling the urgent need for speed while safeguarding the architectural heritage that defines these communities.

Residents, such as Mohamed El Asri from the village of Imi N’Tala, express their desire to be relocated within their original village rather than being moved to a different location. They emphasise the deep connection they have with their land and farming practices, underscoring their commitment to preserving their cultural identity.

Interestingly, a potential solution lies in returning to traditional architectural practices to enhance resilience. Over the years, the prevalence of “often poorly built” concrete structures has displaced the traditional earthen and stone buildings that have withstood the test of time in the High Atlas region, according to Moroccan architect Elie Mouyal.

Architect and anthropologist Salima Naji highlights two distinct scenarios that unfolded during the earthquake. The large concrete buildings in urban areas, often boasting a facade of strength and modernity, proved vulnerable and collapsed in many instances. In contrast, the unconventional, vernacular, and traditional architecture demonstrated more resilience, although not entirely unscathed.

To support the recovery efforts, Rabat has allocated a budget of 120 billion dirhams ($11.6 billion) over five years, aiming to assist the 4.2 million people affected by the quake. King Mohammed VI has emphasised the significance of listening to the local population and respecting the unique heritage and traditions of the region throughout the reconstruction process.

As Morocco navigates the complex task of rebuilding, it must strike a delicate balance between modernisation and the preservation of its rich architectural legacy. By integrating traditional building techniques and materials, the country can fortify its villages against future earthquakes while upholding the cultural identity that lies at the heart of these communities.


Source: AP