October 30, 2023 -Jamaicans across the island are grappling with the effects of an earthquake that rattled the nation on Monday morning.
The island, known for its vibrant culture and breathtaking landscapes, has been left in a state of distress as the aftermath unfolds in various sectors across the country.
Unsettling vibrations: Public responses
Communities island-wide faced disturbances, with numerous videos flooding social media platforms depicting the aftermath’s intensity.
Videos circulating showcased the pandemonium: damaged stores, disrupted corporate areas, and the public seeking refuge in open spaces. Shoppers hastily abandoned their carts, and workers left their offices, all rushing toward safety, navigating through the chaos the tremors left in their wake.
Tremors in classrooms: Earthquake sends schools into disarray
As it relates to the island’s education sector, some students experienced fainting spells and asthma attacks, intensifying the concern among educators and parents alike.
The earthquake’s aftermath in various educational institutions led to an early dismissal of classes. However, Linstead Primary School in St Catherine was one of the many schools that resumed classes despite the shockwaves across the island.
Principal Joni Tucker conveyed to Caribbean National Weekly (CNW) a vivid picture of the situation.
She noted that while the incident was terrifying, the school exhibited signs of readiness and resilience.
Tucker observed several students showcasing their training, seeking refuge under tables, and following established safety protocols.
She further shared that under the guidance of teachers, students found comfort and solace, allowing them to remain conducive to learning despite the tumultuous circumstances.
Tucker further said that she and her team were diligent in their duty, swiftly conducting checks to ensure every student was safe and accounted for.
Health sector overwhelmed: A surge in patients
Amidst the chaos across the island, Jamaica’s health sector confronted a rising tide of patients, symptomatic of the earthquake’s psychological and physical toll.
Reports are that the Kingston Public Hospital has experienced an increase in cases of persons suffering from panic and asthma attacks.
Mental toll: Rising cases of panic and stress
The atmosphere in medical facilities including private hospitals was submerged in chaos, echoing the widespread disruption experienced across various sectors of the island.
Beverly Erskine, a nurse from the Andrews Memorial Hospital (AMH), a private hospital in Jamaica, described to CNW a “chaotic” atmosphere.
She shared that several young people were rushed in, and exhibited signs of psychological distress.
Erskine added that an influx of cases related to panic attacks and post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD), illustrated the quake’s far-reaching mental health implications.
Alongside the psychological impacts, she said that the hospital attended to patients bearing minor injuries attributed to the fallout of debris from impacted construction sites.
As the number of patients surged at the institution, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Donmayne Gyles conveyed to CNW the facility’s capability in such crisis situations.
He mentioned that not only was the institution aptly equipped, but they also procured additional emergency resources to cater to the burgeoning patient load.
Gyles assured that AMH is prepared to handle emergencies of this nature, adding that the institution successfully addressed the needs of every patient affected by the earthquake.
Address from Jamaica’s PM
Following the earthquake, Prime Minister Andrew Holness addressed the nation.
“The damage assessment so far is that damage has been minor. Nevertheless, we’re taking all precautions. All the necessary protocols have been activated. Here at the office of the Prime Minister, the NWA [National Works Agency] will be doing an assessment to ensure the building is safe for cabinet to resume,” he said.
He urged all Jamaicans to remain calm, adding that the country may experience aftershocks.
Other Caribbean islands affected
According to reports, the earthquake also affected Haiti, the United States Minor Outlying Islands, and Cuba.
The epicenter of the quake was 4 kilometers from Hope Bay, Jamaica, with a depth of 10 km.
The earthquake has so far been reportedly felt in the Eastern and Central parishes of the island, specifically Kingston and St Andrew, Clarendon, St. Mary, St Catherine, St Thomas, Portland, St Elizabeth, and Manchester.
This follows a 4.3 magnitude earthquake that rocked the island in September.