Govt. to consider changes to building code after earthquake in region

Govt. to consider changes to building code after earthquake in region
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday suggested further changes may be needed country’s building code given the impact of a recent earthquake in the region.

A 7.7 magnitude earthquake hit parts of Jamaica with tremors reportedly felt in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Haiti and Cuba on Tuesday.

In Parliament yesterday, Minnis said the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and Bahamas Department of Meteorology will carefully monitor further earthquake advisories and tsunami threat messages from the Hawaii-based Pacific Tsunami Watch Centre, and will advise the public accordingly.

Several buildings around New Providence were evacuated on Tuesday due to these tremors.

Of them were the Cabinet Office and other government buildings, Colina Insurance Ltd., the Goodman’s Bay Corporate Building and Charlotte House.

Minnis said: “Going forward, our building codes may also have to take into consideration the impact of the effects of earthquakes in the region.”

“There are no reports of injuries of Bahamian students in Jamaica and students in Santiago and Manzanillo, in Cuba.”

The prime minister said he was still waiting on feedback from Guantanamo in Cuba.

“If there is an earthquake-generated tsunami and a threat to the region (including The Bahamas), the Pacific Tsunami Watch Centre in Hawaii issues tsunami watch/ information statement bulletins to the Bahamas Department of Meteorology, which is the National Tsunami Warning Focal Point,” said Minnis, who outlined existing protocol.

“The Met Department then notifies the Director of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), who will in turn activate the national response procedures from the Standard of Operating Procedures (SOP).”

The Prime Minister highlighted that NEMA has been involved in Caribbean tsunami exercises in recent years.

These exercises “evaluated the national protocol, local tsunami response plans, increased tsunami preparedness and improve coordination throughout the region”.

“Protocols will continue to be monitored and adjusted as necessary,” Minnis said.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) reported that a 7.7 magnitude earthquake occurred 83 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, at approximately 2.10pm on Tuesday.