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Tsunami Alert Issued - But Bahamas Safe

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

DESPITE an official warning being released, at no time was the Bahamas in danger of being hit by a tsunami, the Meteorology Department has said.

Yesterday morning, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) issued an advisory to Caribbean countries and then later for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua citing the possibility that a tsunami could occur. The warning came shortly after a 7.6 magnitude earthquake occurred off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica.

The announcement which spread across social media prompted concern among Bahamians who sought answers on what would be the next step in preparing for the natural disaster. When contacted on emergency plans in the event that the country was hit by a tsunami, Captain Stephen Russell NEMA’s director would only say that once an international body makes confirmation, then his organisation would move to alert the public through the media.

However, the Department of Meteorology’s Director Arthur Rolle said the warning was later cancelled as officials at the PTWC said “they had inadvertently sent the warning to the Caribbean by mistake.” The Centre apologised for any inconvenience caused. The National Emergency Management Agency later released a statement of confirmation.

The Bahamas was last in danger of a tsunami, NEMA said, following the 7.0 magnitude Haiti earthquake in 2010, which killed more than 300,000 people.

Warnings were in effect for Haiti, Cuba, Dominican Republic and The Bahamas, particularly Inagua where residents reported feeling tremors from the quake. That warning was lifted a few hours later.

In 2004, a tsunami, the result of a 9.1 magnitude earthquake in Indonesia killed thousands and caused widespread damage as far as Africa. Eight people died in South Africa as a result of the extraordinary high sea level. It was estimated at the time that a large per cent of the victims were children.

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