Barbuda Early Morning Earthquake Felt In St. Kitts And Nevis

Abisola Abiola


BASSETERRE, St. Kitts –The worst way to wake up in the wee hours of the morning is by experiencing an earthquake! An early morning Leeward Islands earthquake produced the strongest shaking in St. Kitts and Nevis in 14 years. It awoke and startled some of Nevis’ residents.

On Tuesday 30th April 2013 at 2:56am local time, an earthquake occurred West of Barbuda. According to Manager of the Nevis Disaster Management Office, Mr. Lester Blackett, the event was located at 17.66°N and 62.10°W. The magnitude was 5.3 and depth 58km making it the largest earthquake of the year in the Federation, in terms of seismic energy released at the earthquake source. He informed that there were reports that the quake was felt in Antigua, St. Kitts, Nevis, St. Maarten and St. Barths.

The source of the significant 5.3 earthquake was fortunately tens of kilometers from the nearest inhabited land. As a result, there was no damage reported and there are no reports of loss of life.

Some persons reported the day after that they called their loved ones to see if they were all right. Others indicated that they remembered to do the famous DCH, dropped, cover and hold on. A female resident commented that she was frozen with fright and did not move from her bed until the earth stopped shaking. Most people on the other hand, indicated that they did not feel the tremor, as they were fast asleep in lala land. Another woman said she did feel her bed shaking but she thought she was dreaming and did not realise it was an earthquake until the following day when she was asked if she felt the earthquake.

Mr. Blackett assured Nevisians that although the earthquake was significant, it was not anything out of the ordinary as the Eastern Caribbean is a seismically active area with hundreds of earthquakes occurring in and around the region annually.  He further assured that ground shaking, in itself is not dangerous and noted that it should serve as a reminder to the public to educate themselves about the hazard, to prepare and be proactive. “Earthquakes occur all the time, some are discoverable others are not. We have been warned by the University of the West Indies (UWI) SEISMIC Research Centre that the Caribbean can experience up to 7.8 magnitude earthquake, which is a very significant one. Tuesday’s earthquake was just a reminder that we are susceptible to earthquakes and we must prepare,” he said.

UWI SEISMIC Research Centre advises that during an earthquake persons should do the following:

  • If inside stay inside, do not run out of the building.
  • If inside, stand in a strong doorway or get under a sturdy desk, table or bed and hold on. Do not use elevators or stairs. Move away from windows, mirrors, glass doors, pictures, bookcases, hanging plants and heavy objects.
  • If outside and there are no obvious signs of danger nearby, stay there.
  • If outside, stay away from glass buildings, electricity poles, and bridges.
  • If in a vehicle, do not stop on or under a bridge.
  • Always look out for falling plaster, bricks, lighting fixtures and other objects.

The 1974 7.5 earthquake was the most significant earthquake that occurred in St. Kitts and Nevis in the past 100 years, causing severe damage to property.