The ideas and thoughts expressed within this blog are not the views or opinions of WorldTeach nor the Namibia Ministry of Education, but rather my personal views.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Earthquake Shakes Khorixas, by John Ekongo

I was at the Ministry of Education's Kunene Regional Office when the quake struck. I definitely felt it; but, perhaps it is my Southern California heritage that kept me unphased. People reacted differently; learners were the most dramatic, of course. No one really knew exactly what really happened. I finally got hold of the New Era Newspaper today (seven days later) and read the cover story on the incident.

WINDHOEK – A mild earthquake of the magnitude 5.6 struck Khorixas at around 09h00 last Friday sending residents in panic.

The Geological Survey of Namibia (GSN) has confirmed that Khorixas experienced an earthquake of the magnitude 5.6 on the Richter scale, a few minutes after 09h00 last Friday morning.

This is the largest earthquake ever to be recorded in Namibia, according to statistics from the GSN.

The quake struck at 09h14 local time at a depth of 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) with a distance of 285 kilometres (175 miles) north-west of Windhoek, 195 kilometres (120 miles) north-east of Swakopmund and 340 kilometres (210 miles) south-east of Ohopoho.

According to available data, 26 responses to the earthquake were received in seven areas, namely Windhoek, Otjiwarongo, Okakarara, Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Oshakati.

At the same time, other earthquakes were recorded in Cape Town (South Africa), Casablanca (Morocco), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Algiers (Algeria), Lagos (Nigeria), Kinshasa (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lusaka (Zambia), Cairo (Egypt), Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), as well as Nairobi (Kenya), according to the United States Geological Survey on its website – which also confirmed the Namibian incident.

The earthquake was also felt all the way from Khorixas throughout outlying areas such as Uis, Soris Soris, and Swakopmund up to Windhoek, said Dr Gabi Schneider - Director of the GSN in the Ministry of Mines and Energy.

No reports of damage to property or loss of lives were recorded.

On Saturday, community members were calling the Namibian Broadcasting Damara/Nama Service wanting to find out more about the natural event, which had the ground under their feet trembling.

The earthquake happened west of the town and was generated by the activity of faults west of the town, Schneider told New Era on Saturday.

Kunene Region where Khorixas is situated lies in areas where there are earthquake activities. Although rare, its location is in the earthquake faults despite many of them not being fully active.

When New Era called, residents were in shock and panic because of the earthquake. No power interruptions, injuries or losses of life were reported, residents said, but they were frightened.

A teacher at a local high school said, “You could feel the earth moving a bit and the kids started running away.”

Jason Palmer from the Mowani Mountain Camp – an accommodation establishment deep in Damaraland – a pristine tourism area said, “We had an earthquake and it lasted for about 7 – to 10 seconds but luckily enough, no rocks or any thing major fell.”

Earthquakes have been experienced before but the country has not recorded a major earthquake. Areas with geological faults that are active (areas that have recorded a seismic event) apart from Khorixas are Opuwo, Windhoek, Waterberg, Khorixas and Bethanie.

Eros in Windhoek felt an earthquake in 2006, prior to Friday’ earthquake and which had a size of 4.7. One year, a farm on the outskirts of Windhoek also experienced an earthquake of magnitude 5.0, which resulted in some cracks in the ground.