In the afternoon of Sunday, August 27, 2023, at 4:45 p.m., the Colombian Geological Service reported an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5, with its epicenter located in El Cantan del San Pablo (Managru) in Choco.
Call for preparedness
The Mayor of Medellín, Daniel Quintero, called on public and private institutions to join earthquake simulation exercises and preparedness initiatives, emphasizing the importance of being ready to face seismic events.
Causes of Seismic Activity in Colombia
The month of August will be recorded as a period in which earthquakes have generated uncertainty on more than one occasion. On August 17, the Geological Service recorded over 40 aftershocks from tectonic plate movements in the national territory. These seismic phenomena were most pronounced around noon and around 8:00 p.m.
The Geological Service also clarified that Colombia is situated in a seismically active zone due to its location over three tectonic plates, and emphasized that, on average, the country experiences around 2,500 earthquakes per month, although most of them are imperceptible.
However, the Geological Service pointed out that predicting when and where an earthquake will occur is an extremely complex task. While it is possible to identify regions more prone to this threat, accurately anticipating a seismic event is impossible.
John Makario Londoño, Director of Geo-Hazards, added that the same applies to aftershocks. “Just like with the main earthquake, predicting it is not possible; the same goes for aftershocks. They cannot be predicted! We cannot anticipate either the timing of their occurrence or the intervals between them. However, it is certain that these aftershocks will continue for a long time, even weeks or months, although most of them will not be perceptible to people.”
Based on the above, the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management provided a series of recommendations to take risk reduction measures and be prepared to respond adequately to this situation.
Earthquake Response Protocol
In the event of detecting an earthquake, follow these guidelines:
- Take cover near a column, under a desk, or in designated safe areas, always away from windows and objects that could fall.
- Never use elevators.
- Avoid standing under door frames.
- If in a wheelchair, move next to a column or a safe spot. Brake the wheelchair and protect your head with your arms.
- If lying down and unable to reach a safe location, stay in bed or on one side. Shield your head with your arms or a pillow.
- If outside, assess your surroundings and find a safe place. Stay away from poles and cables. Steer clear of facades, as parts like bricks or glass may fall. Proceed cautiously to the center of the street.
- If driving on an urban road, do not stop. Reduce speed and locate bays or other safe spots to pull over.
- If driving on a highway, lower your speed. Find a safe location to park. In Colombia, the highway police can be reached at #767.
- If driving on a bridge, reduce speed and avoid stopping until you have exited the bridge. Bridges are not safe during earthquakes.
- If in a public place such as a theater or cinema, remain seated. Protect your head with your arms. Wait for the earthquake to end before leaving the premises.