Committee tasked to develop plan for earthquake response

The Ministry of Interior has inaugurated a 10-member committee to develop a comprehensive program for national earthquake preparedness and response.

According to the sector minister, Ambrose Dery, the move is as a result of the threat of a major earthquake following recent tremors in Accra.

The committee, chaired by an engineer, Carlien Bou-Chedid, is expected to finish work by April 15, 2019.

“These occurrences are quite worrying because the experts say some tremors may be the warning signal of a major earthquake event… Should an earthquake hit Ghana today, there will be many unanswered questions,” Mr Dery said before he inaugurated the committee.

The most recent tremor on March 2 measured 3.9 on the Richter Scale.

People living around Gbawe, Sowutuom, Old Kasoa Barrier, New Bortianor, Awoshie, Abelemkpe, Tabora, Achimota, Ablekuma, Kisseiman, Westland, Laterbiokorshie, Legon and McCarthy Hill experienced the tremor.

The committee members include:

Carlien Bou-Chedid (Ghana Institute of Engineers)

Eric Nana Agyemang-Prempeh (DirectorGeneral, NADMO)

Joseph Ankrah (Chief Disaster Control Officer, NADMO)

Nicholas Opoku (Seismologist, Ghana Geological Survey Authority)

ACP George Tweneboah (Ghana Police)

Julius Kuunuor (Ghana National Fire Service)

Benedict Arhjurst (Land Use and Spatial Planning Authority)

Dr. Lawrence Ofori-Boadu (Ghana Health Service)

Prof. Ahmed Nuhu Zakariah (CEO Ghana Ambulance Service)

Col. M. Mustapha (Ghana Armed Forces)

The Saturday tremor occurred barely a month after one was experienced in January 2019. There was also a tremor in December 2018.

A Senior Seismologist, Nicholas Opoku in a Citi News interview on the development said Saturday’s tremor was about 40 times more powerful than what was experienced last December and January.

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He said the incident could be a warning for more tremors or an earthquake and there is the need for the city to be properly planned to avert any disaster should such an incident occur again.

Ghana’s history with earthquakes

The last three major earthquakes occurred in Ghana in 1862, 1906 and 1939. The 1862 Accra earthquake had a magnitude of 6.5 on the Richter Scale and caused three fatalities in addition to damage to property.

Magnitude 4.6 and 4.9 seismic events also occurred in Accra in 1871 and 1872.

The epicentre of the 1906 earthquake was near Ho collapsing buildings and causing severe damage.

The June 1939 magnitude 6.5 earthquake was the most destructive in Ghana’s history causing an estimated $67.3 million damage.

This seismic event lasted about thirty seconds and killed 17 people and injured about 140. Its intensity centred around James Town.