March 3, 2021

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Constant alert for earthquakes | PRESENT

The anguish returned to seize the residents and mayors of the southwestern zone before the record of new telluric movements, with earthquakes of magnitude greater than 5.0, whose aftershocks have continued, thus ending a period of little activity.

Early on Friday there was an earthquake in Lajas of magnitude 4.9. In the afternoon, another strong earthquake was also registered, also in the southwestern area, with a magnitude of 5.3. However, it is the same seismic sequence that began on December 28, with the strongest earthquakes reported on January 6, of magnitude 5.8, and January 7, an earthquake that had a magnitude of 6.4.

“Los earthquakes are occurring in the same region. There has been no change in that, but there are a few hours where the earthquakes are occurring from Lajas, which is where this happened. On the border between Lajas and Guánica, but it is part of the same system. It is a system that comes through Lajas through Guayanilla, Guánica and Peñuelas both on land and at sea, "reported geomorphologist José Molinelli.

The expert noted that in recent days a new pattern has been observed in seismic movements , which according to forecasts by the United States Geological Survey could be extended until next year. "What is interesting in terms of pattern is that in the last two days the number of earthquakes dropped considerably. What we are seeing is that on some occasions, not on all occasions, when seismic activity is reduced, that time is broken by events that are significant (such as yesterday). The same thing happened after the earthquake of December 28 when this whole sequence began, which is still continuing, "explained the expert.

He warned that the employer is going to continue and urged Governor Wanda Vázquez to carry out an accelerated plan to strengthen the schools they would not resist a high intensity earthquake. This plan, according to Molinelli Freytes, must make way for half of the schools to be reinforced by 2021.

“This is part of a whole pattern that will follow, but what is important is to be clear that after a Significant earthquakes like this will continue to occur aftershocks that can be as strong as this event or more. So, this reveals to us that we have to be more prepared because you cannot predict when an earthquake will come, but in this area this entire seismic emergency remains active and it does not have to be a strong earthquake to have significant effects because they are happening well. near the shore or on land. That affects already weakened structures, and as I always suggest, there are a series of structures that are not earthquake resistant, "he noted.

He recalled that he has" been warning for years "about schools built with short columns and about the need to Reduce the vulnerability of people living in two-story houses or built on columns. "The urgency is how we are going to mitigate the effects of an earthquake and the other thing is that the Planning Board has to stop approving construction in tsunami areas. That is an absurd thing because there are no regulations to regulate the use of land in tsunami zones, nor is it a criterion for giving a construction permit, "he said.

" Prepared "for a quick response

After the earthquake in Lajas, Governor Wanda Vázquez reiterated that they will review all the structures that were designated to serve as a refuge in this hurricane season. In addition, he noted that in the event of an emergency they would be “prepared for a quick response.”

“We know that the earth continues to shake. We had indicated that we have more than 320 shelters and we will all be reviewing them so that they are prepared, that they have what is necessary: ​​generators, cisterns and to guarantee that there is social distancing. We have shelters that can house 42,000 people with social distancing, "Vázquez said at a press conference yesterday.

In Lajas, a house collapsed after the earthquake yesterday morning. The mayor of the town, Marcos "Turin" Irizarry, confirmed that there was no one inside the structure. "I am conducting evidence because the situation is more complicated than I thought because in no event of earthquake had a house collapsed as it collapsed in Maguayo," Irizarry told EL VOCERO .

Irizarry was concerned for the aftershocks in the area and the impact it would have on homes weakened by previous earthquakes. "Traditionally, when there is an event like this, then some aftershocks follow and I will be waiting," he said.

Request from the mayors

While the mayor of Guánica, Santos Seda, explained that the impact received in homes, offices and schools is something that terrifies people. "We have the great and historical complexity that we are facing three crises: the Covid-19, the earthquakes and without ignoring that the hurricane season is near. Totally difficult and desperate, but we are doing the work and guiding our people, "he said.

He also anticipated that he will request the governor to carry out a geological study of the area, an initiative that can be managed through the executive branch. or legislative.

“In the next few days I will meet with the governor and I will bring her a request for a geological study of this entire southern region to be established as public policy because the mayors are working with the demolitions and prospectively we would have to work with reconstruction. We need all the current tools to rebuild correctly and if we do it now, we would be letting ourselves be guided by guides and qualification maps that are from 2006 and our soils have suffered a lot since December here, "he said.

For his part, the Cabo Rojo Mayor Bobby Ramírez Kurtz acknowledged that the residents of the southwestern zone have lived in uncertainty since January. , but we don't know until when. It is something that happens under the earth and we do not know how long it will happen, or the place, nor the intensity, nor the magnitude. That is why we must all have our eviction plan and backpacks ready, "he said.

The journalist Maricarmen Rivera collaborated in this story.

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