28 January, 2020 as at 3:30 p.m.
The National Meteorological Services of Belize and the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) had to quickly issue verbal and whats app/face book circulated alerts to advise the general public that an Earthquake occurred off the coast of Cuba. The USGS later upgraded the earthquake off the coast of Cuba to a magnitude 7.7 earthquake. If a Tsunami was generated the expected arrival times in local time were as follows: Kingston, Jamaica, 3:24 PM ET Cozumel, Mexico, 3:34 PM ET Puerto Cortes, Honduras, 3:38 PM ET Belize City, Belize, 4:48 PM ET Santa Cruz Del Sur, Cuba, 5:16 PM ET Nueva Gerona, Cuba, 6:45 PM ET.
The risk of one foot to three feet tsunami generated waves were possible along portions of Mexico, Cuba, Cayman Islands, Belize, and Honduras. One to three feet waves represented a very low Tsunami threat to the coast of Belize. There was no need to panic nor was there any requirement for a major evacuation, furthermore time would not have permitted. Fortunately this did not occur. The lead time for our region was five minutes to one hour which later was extended to two hours arrival time which was terminated thereafter. It was a very rapid response situation. The priority was getting information out to the cayes, the coastal communities and people in the likely impact area. Thereafter the Tsunami warning centre issued the “All Clear” indicating that there was no longer a Tsunami Threat to Belize.
In the event of another tremor and Tsunami alert where the threat of water from incoming waves will be higher than three feet NEMO advises the public to seek higher ground, move up to a solid concrete second storey structure. Move away from the coast line. If you see the sea moving away from the coastline or beach a Tsunami is likely to occur. The waves arrival time and the wave height are the two most critical factors which must be analysed very carefully before making a decision. If you are indoors when there is a tremor, get down under cover i.e., a bed or sturdy table or piece of furniture and hold on. If you are outdoors, stay outdoors, move away from objects that could fall and hit you. Always remember, do not panic and do not run. NEMO coordinators below can be contacted for further information:
Corozal, Mr. Ronnie Hernandez at 614 7140;
Orange Walk, Mr. Aragon at 615 2264; or Mr. Leiva at 614 7177
Belize District, Mr. Alphius Gillett at 614 4735;
San Pedro, Ms. Vanessa Parham at 614 5865;
Belize City, Mr. Al Westby at 614 8604 or Mr. Pollard at 6143244;
Belmopan, Ms. Clare Moody at 614 5705; or Mr. Eiley at 624 2365
Cayo, Mr. Al Westby at 6148604 or Mr. Johnny Ramclam at 614 5891;
Stann Creek (Coastal- Dangrigaincluding Mullins River to Independence),
Mr. Kevin Flores at 604 3632
Stann Creek (Interior- Hummingbird and Southern highway communities), Mr. David Cruz at 614 8514; and
Toledo, Mr. Kenton Parham at 614 2158 or Mr. Dennis Williams at 614 2393
NEMO will keep the general public updated on any further developments. The public is advised to stay alert. Please adhere to the official alerts and release from NEMO.