Rupununi residents terrified by aftershocks of earthquake told no need to flee their villages


Minister of Home Affairs Robeson Benn, a geologist by profession, has told residents of the villages of Katoonarib and Sawariwau in the Deep South Rupununi that there is no need to flee their villages because of the aftershocks from a recent earthquake in neighbouring Brazil.

“This is not necessary, and it will only cause enormous distress, dislocation and unnecessary expenditure of money. There is no need to leave your homesteads to go to any other place,” Benn stated on a visit to the villages on Sunday.

Lenox Henry, the Head Teacher of Sawariwau Primary, complained that vibrations and loud rumblings were being felt and heard continuously. He said the villagers felt “movement” of the earth as recent as Sunday morning.

Geologist, Leandro Pires inspects the cracks in Katoonarib (Photo: DPI)

Leandro Pires, a geologist who went along with Minister Benn on a visit to the villages, explained that rumbling sounds are normal following an earthquake and should not be a cause of concern. He added that a release of energy causes the noise through the cracks in the earth.

Minister Benn assured the residents that there would be seismic and audio monitoring and gravity and monoatomic assessments of the area.

Meanwhile, head of the Civil Defence Commission, Lt. Col. Kester Craig reported that there was minor damage as a result of the quake. Two houses in Katoonarib suffered some damage, while there were several cracks in houses and Government facilities in Sawariwau.

Of concern to the CDC is the types of materials used to construct buildings in the Rupununi. The buildings mainly have thatched roofs made from eta palm and walls made from adobe bricks, which cannot withstand an earthquake’s shocks.

CDC Director-General Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig observes a cracked wall at Sawariwau Primary (Photo: DPI)

“They are good under normal circumstances but thinking about seismic actions like what has occurred, some emphasis may have to be looked at how can we improve the construction and the building codes for these areas. So, we are going to have some discussions with Public

Infrastructure to come and do some structural assessments to come up with recommendations of improvements in terms of construction,” Lt. Col. Craig said.

Grace Cyril, a resident of Katoonarib, whose house wall collapsed, said he was away at the time of the incident. She was grateful that the authorities are repairing her home.

“I have already received 16 zinc sheets, 10 sacks of cement and wooden materials.”

During an inspection in Katoonarib, the team observed visible cracks in the earth and three areas of sizable depressions.

Over the next three days, a small team from the CDC will conduct continuous assessments in the affected communities.

Meanwhile, Deputy Toshao of Katoonarib, Florie Singh, is satisfied with the Government and the CDC’s intervention.

“We, the people of Katoonarib, we are very happy to have you guys here and to get the direct information from you the people that are trying to help us, and I must say that I am relieved from the assessment that has been done.

“I am a bit relieved from all the terrifying things that I was going through and not just me, also all my villagers that have experienced this very terrifying earthquake that has happened recently here.” (Extracted and modified from the Department of Public Information)


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