|Volume No. 1 Issue No. 63 - Wednesday November 24, 2004|
|Earthquakes Landslides and Rain Creates Chaos in Dominica |
At about 7:45 A.M on Sunday November 21, 2004, a massive earthquake rocked the island of Dominica completely destroying the Vielle Case Catholic church and causing structural damage to several buildings. Initial reports put the magnitude of the quake at 6.0 on the Richter scale. This was followed by several smaller tremors throughout the morning. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The center of the quake was reported to be 10 kilometers off the North East coast of Dominica and was 18 kilometers deep. Before the major quake, at 7:39 A.M there was a foreshock, which measured 3.5 on the Richter scale.
The highest recorded aftershock was at 4.9. Residents of Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Martinique and St.Lucia also reported feeling the quake. At least one death in Guadeloupe appears to be related to the quake after a woman reportedly jumped to her death from a four storey building.
After three days of heavy rainfall, rivers overflowed their banks, and triggered well over a hundred landslides all over the country. The country's lone airport remained closed as the Marigot river overflowed unto the runway. As of Sunday morning, several villages were completely cut off from the rest of the island including Grand Fond, Laplaine, Delices, Riviere Cyrique, Scottshead and Soufriere. The earthquake itself also triggered several more landslides.
In the case of Grand Fond, more than sixteen landslides blocked a stretch of road about two miles long connecting the village to Rosalie. The West Coast has also been inundated with boulders falling from cliff sides.
Dominicans calling local radio stations this morning, referred to the fact that there were no deaths in the earthquake as a miracle. The Vielle Case church would normally have been holding morning services, but the congregation was scheduled to go to Roseau for a church feast. The Dominica Broadcasting Corporation switched to broadcasting religious music and fielding calls from nervous residents.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit took to the airwaves and declared a state of emergency for the North Eastern part of the island, which was more severely damaged in the quake. Patients have been evacuated from the Portsmouth hospital, and several people have left their homes fearing further structural damage.
The Caribbean Emergency Disaster Response Team (CEDERA), based in Barbados is currently on standby and monitoring the situation. Scientists from a regional monitoring unit earthquake center at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad also continue to monitor the quakes. In the past, earthquake activity has been linked to Dominica's many active volcanoes.