Recurring earth tremors in Accra: Akufo-Addo tasks Ministry to prepare emergency plan

BY: Kwame Asare Boadu
An aerial view of Kasoa [from the toll booth towards the overpass]
An aerial view of Kasoa [from the toll booth towards the overpass]

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has tasked the National Security and the Ministry of the Interior to prepare a national earthquake emergency plan that will help minimise the impact of any possible earthquake in the country.

The directive followed the recurrence of earth tremors in Accra inrecent times.

“I can tell you that the President has shown interest in the recurrence of earth tremors in parts of the national capital and has directed the National Security and the Ministry of the Interior to work on a national earthquake preparedness plan, with the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) as the co-ordinating agency,” the Director-General of NADMO, Mr Eric Nana Agyemang Prempeh, told the Daily Graphic in Accra yesterday.

Last Saturday, an earth tremor rocked Weija, McCarthy Hill, Gbawe, Sowutuom, Old Kasoa Barrier, New Bortianor, Awoshie, Abelemkpe, Tabora and Achimota, sending fear and panic among residents.

The earth tremor, which was the fourth and the biggest in recent times and measured 3.6 on the Richter scale, has intensified conversations on what exactly is taking place and how the authorities are preparing for a possible earthquake.

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Before the latest tremor, there had been similar ones on March 24, 2018, which measured 3.4; December 9, 2018,  measuring 3.3, and January 13, 2019, gauging 2.6 on the Richter scale.

Earthquakes occur suddenly and violently, without warning. Experts believe that identifying the potential hazards ahead of time and putting in place the right planning could reduce the accompanying dangers.

Take off

Nana Prempeh said following the President’s directive, NADMO had already started the preparatory work, which would involve all the agencies, to prepare the emergency plan.

“Very soon, together with the National Security, NADMO, as the coordinating agency, is going to have workshops and inter-agency collaborations, where we will look at emergencies, including ambulance and health delivery. And I am very confident that very soon the final plan will be ready,” he said.

He expressed concern about the fact that the nation had not done enough in the past by way of preparing for earthquakes.

“It [earthquake] can happen; nothing can prevent it when it is happening. But we must be prepared, as a nation, so that when it happens, we know what to do,” he noted.

Nana Prempeh said even as a national earthquake emergency plan was put in place, NADMO was also looking at preventive measures.

“There are some places where we have to stop people from going on with construction and other things, especially as we know the fault lines,” he said.
Survey authority warns

The Geological Survey Department (GSD) has also warned of an imminent earthquake along the fault lines especially areas in the Greater Accra Region.

A senior seismologist with the GSD, Mr Nicholas Opoku, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that “we cannot sit down and say we are safe”.

According to him, forces were acting on the earth in parts of the fault lines, especially in the Weija area, resulting in putting more stress on buildings on the rocks.

“As the stress keeps adding, it can result in an earthquake,” he explained, adding: “We have to be careful and plan.”
Mr Opoku said the GSD was monitoring the situation and would trigger the necessary precautionary measures when danger loomed.

Fear and panic

Fear and panic gripped some residents of the affected areas when the earth tremor swept through the communities last Saturday night, reports Edward Acquah.

According to some residents of the affected areas, the tremor, which occurred around 11:20 p.m., shook the earth and their buildings for about 10 seconds.

One resident, Ishmael Asare, a pastor, described it as scary.

“I was praying when I heard a loud sound like that of a thunder outside my room. Before I could say Jack, my feet were shaking. I mentioned Jesus’ name continuously and in less than a minute calm was restored,” he said.

Another resident of Weija, Esther Cudjoe, told the Daily Graphic that she was sleeping on the floor when she felt the ground vibrating.

She said the impact was so severe that she quickly ran out of her room in search of an open area where she believed her safety could be guaranteed.

“When I got to our compound, I found two of my neighbours standing outside with their children. Although it occurred for a short moment, we spent some hours conversing about our safety because we could not go back to sleep again,” she said.

However, some residents who also experienced the tremor said last Saturday’s incident brought them “little” fear because previous tremors were stronger than what they experienced last Saturday.

They said unlike previous tremors which, they claimed, shook their buildings heavily, Saturday’s tremor was “mild” and had a soft impact.

Some also indicated that they were fast asleep at the time of the tremor and that they were only informed about it by their neighbours the next morning.

From Lapaz, Juliet Safo reports that at the time of the tremor, most pubs and food vendors were operating.

A bartender, Mr Kwame Osei, said: “We actually wanted to run because we didn’t know what it was. We were, however, told this morning that it was an earth tremor.”

Another person, who gave her name only as Sister Afia, said: “I was in my room when I heard vibrations on my bed.

I got scared, as I did not know what was happening.

Immediately I got on social media and realised that people were talking about an earth tremor, which they said also occurred at McCarthy Hill, Tabora, Ablekuma, North Kaneshie and other areas.”