Thursday, 15 September 2016

Kaduna earth tremors this week

Two earth tremors within the space of twenty
four hours hit communities in Jaba Local
Government Area of Kaduna State, causing panic
in the area but also widespread concern across
the country.
The first tremor occurred at about
10.30am on Sunday at Kwoi, headquarters of the
local government. Town residents fled in panic
on hearing vibrations in the earth and also loud
sounds. Kwoi is about twenty kilometres away
from Nok town, the centre of the world renowned
Nok civilisation.
Less than a day later, more earth tremors
occurred at Sambang Dagi village, also in Jaba
Local Government. The second incident occurred
at about 4am yesterday, Monday. Residents had
to again scamper for safety in the wake of the
unusual tremors. Local and state authorities were
yet to say whether there were casualties from
the two events.
An earth tremor is a small scale earthquake.
Earthquakes themselves are signs of seismic
movement within the earth. They are vibrations
caused by rocks breaking under stress against
an underground surface called a fault plane while
a tremor is an involuntary movement of earth
surface caused by stress in the underground
rocks.
Seismologists say that earthquakes occur when
the earth’s tectonic plates move and contact
other plates or when plates rub against each
other. Parts of the world that sit on the edges of
continental plates are particularly prone to
earthquakes and tremors. The Pacific Rim
countries as well as parts of Nepal, Turkey, Iran,
Mexico, Uzbekistan, Armenia and California, USA
often suffer from earthquakes.
Nigeria and most of Africa however sit in the
middle of a continental plate and are not usually
prone to quakes and tremors. Even though
tremors are very rare around here, there have
been some episodes, such as the tremor
experienced in Ogun State in the mid-1980s.
We must all worry because of the extremely
destructive power of tremors and quakes and
also the tendency of a quake to be followed by
more tremors, called aftershocks. That two
tremors occurred in Sanga Local Government
within 24 hours suggests that something is
happening in the ground below and the
possibility of more tremors, in Sanga and in other
places, cannot be ruled out.
Soon after the first tremor, Kaduna State
Government responded swiftly. Governor Nasir el-
Rufa’i’s spokesman said the governor had
reported the matter to the country’s geological
authorities and also ordered the state emergency
management agency to mobilise men and
resources to the area and deal with any possible
emergencies. Kaduna State Government also
advised the people not to panic, which is a very
good advice because panic tends to aggravate
crisis situations and create unnecessary
casualties.
Still, we cannot expect the people of Sanga or of
surrounding areas to sleep with their two eyes
closed in this situation. The matter has been
reported to federal authorities but no one has the
power to stop an earth tremor. What the
authorities can do however is to immediately
undertake a seismic study, with the help of
seismological institutes and watch centres
around the world, to determine just what is
happening in Sanga.
These international centres may not even have
to visit Sanga or Nigeria; they are capable of
measuring seismic events around the world
promptly. We need to know urgently if there is
the need to evacuate people from the area lest a
major event occurs.
Beyond that, the Federal Government through
the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology
should now pay attention to an eventuality that is
not so common in Nigeria, i.e. earth tremors. It
should undertake a complete seismological study
of the country and determine which areas, if any,
are prone to earth tremors so that the correct
advice regarding buildings will be issued and
necessary emergency facilities be put in place.
We cannot stumble along on this one. To be
forewarned is to be forearmed.