Fiji Time: 2:27 AM on Wednesday 29 April

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Be on your guard

Avinesh Gopal
Monday, April 30, 2012

IT is a natural disaster but is hardly experienced in the country.

Like other natural disasters, it can cause severe damage and even claim lives.

While floodings and cyclones are a frequent occurrence in the country, earthquakes hardly happen.

A major danger associated with an earthquake is that of a tsunami, which can cause widespread destruction in Fiji and nearby countries.

There has not been any major earthquake in the country that has caused massive destruction and claimed several lives but the possibility of it happening cannot be ruled out.

Considering that Fiji sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the issue of being prepared for the worst becomes more important.

The Pacific Ring of Fire is an area where a large number of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur in the basin of the Pacific Ocean.

Shaped as a horseshoe for about 40,000 kilometres, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of ocean trenches, volcanic arcs and volcanic belts and/or plate movements.

According to Wikipedia, 90 per cent of the world's earthquakes and 81 per cent of the world's largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.

But as far as awareness and preparedness are concerned, people in the country seem to be quite alert when there is an earthquake or tsunami warning, as was evident last Friday.

It was a normal work day for thousands of people in Suva City until 2:43pm when there was a rumbling below their feet and things started moving on their desks and in their offices.

People did not take long to realise that what they had experienced was an earthquake and that too a bigger one than what they may have felt before.

The earthquake which lasted for a few seconds saw people scurrying out of their offices located in high buildings, with some moving to higher ground, fearing a tsunami.

However, some were so engrossed with whatever they were doing that they did not feel anything and were unaware until asked by others if they had felt the earthquake.

With a magnitude of 4.6, the earthquake on April 27 was located at a depth of 13.9 kilometres and 2.3 kilometres north north west of Lami Town and 7.01 kilometres north north west of Suva City.

The epicentre of the earthquake was located on the mainland, further up from Qauia in Lami, unlike most that are often traced to below the seabed.

Fiji Police Force spokesman Inspector Atunaisa Sokomuri said it was good to see people taking precautions immediately after the earthquake struck.

"People hurried out of their offices which are on high buildings and some even moved to higher ground fearing that a tsunami would follow," he said.

"It just shows that the awareness programs carried out on the safety measures during times of natural disasters like an earthquake are working," said Insp Sokomuri.

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