Quake fear

THE possibility of a bigger earthquake occurring in Fiji is high after tremors felt over the past few months, says National Disaster Management Office (NDMO) director Akapusi Tuifagalele.

“The NDMO is not trying to frighten the public but the possibility of it happening is there because we are in the Ring of Fire so it is important for us to prepare,” he said. An agreement was signed yesterday between the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Gesellschaft fur Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) for the provision of five new tsunami warning sirens by next year which would also be situated in the Suva area such as the other two.

Mr Tuifagalele said the NDMO was always thinking back on the 1953 Suva earthquake which had measured 6.75 on the richter scale.

He said the earthquake was a shallow one thus the tsunami attack was quite devastating along the Suva Peninsula.

“This event occurred 50 years ago and according to scientists, occurrence of such event can happen again between a 50 to 100-year period.

“As we are in the zone and the frequent tremors that we currently have here in Fiji and also in the region, it may trigger something like that,” he said.

Mr Tuifagelele said NDMO was working on stepping up its awareness and preparation program for members of the public in case history repeated itself.

He said one of the reasons this project was focused on Suva was because it was a highly populated area, saying there were plans to expand it to other coastal areas in Fiji.

“I think for the time being we are working on a system that perhaps we use the radio for the maritime, perhaps we use a siren signal for them to hear and know that this is it, there is a tsunami coming and for them to move to safer grounds.”

Mr Tuifagalele said the role of the NDMO was to make people aware of hazards around Fiji “because if something were to happen, then they should know what to do”.

“We have also completed the Fiji Response Plan for Tsunami and once that is out through the National Management Council, it will enable us to use it not only for the NDMO but also for other agencies and stakeholders where they can draw from to help them draw up their own response plan for a tsunami.”

According to earthquaketrack.com, there were three earthquakes in Fiji in the past seven days, 14 in the past month and 213 in the past year.

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