Seismic movement leaves Kwoi residents on tenterhooks

 Earth tremor

Earth tremor

Uncertainty and fear of the unknown recently got the better of residents of Kwoi community, in Jaba Local Council of Kaduna State, who witnessed a series of earth tremors that rocked their community and its environs.

Expectedly, as a result of the strange happenings, a number of residents have spirited their families away to safety.

Since being jolted by the string of earth-shaking incidents, which destroyed houses and sundry property, the Southern Kaduna community famed for the evolution of Nok culture, has, understandably not been the same again, as residents continue to ponder over the strange happening.

Consequent upon this development, the state government appealed for calm from residents, while it lodged a formal report of the situation to appropriate authorities for investigation and necessary actions.

Special Assistant to the Governor on Media and Publicity, Mallam Samuel Aruwan, in an attempt to calm the frightened population, confirmed that geological and emergency agencies have been notified of the unprecedented development.

“The governor sympathises with the people in the Kwoi area over the reported earth tremors. He has directed the State Emergency management Agency (SEMA) to mobilise to the area and comfort our citizens. The national geological agency has also been notified, and invited to investigate the tremors, and provide appropriate guidance.

“The Kaduna State government is receiving updates from the area. Relevant government agencies have been directed to take steps to comfort the residents of Kwoi area and to assuage their unease as they come to terms with an unusual event.”

In the wake of the tremor, the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA), attributed it to “passive sources.”

According to its head of media and corporate communications, Dr, Felix Ale, the nature of the source will soon be determined after the completion of an ongoing, thorough investigation of the incident by experts.

NARSDA said the current findings was the outcome of a preliminary report by the team of experts immediately deployed to the affected communities from one of the agency’s activity centres: The Centre for Geodesy and Geodynamics, for an on the spot assessment, and to carry out a survey and investigation on the incident.

The team, which was led by the Head of Seismology Division of the agency, Dr. Ofonime Akpan, established that the Seismological Station of NASRDA, located at Kujama in Kaduna State accurately recorded the unfortunate incident, which made it easy for collation of data, and early release of preliminary reports.

The analysis showed that the first earth tremor in the locality occurred at 12:28:16.50 seconds GMT on Sunday September 11, 2016, and the event had an epicentre located Latitude 9.825N and Longitude 7.885 E, while Local Magnitude was 2.6, Moment Magnitude was 3.0 and Focal Depth was 10km.

The report further revealed that the second tremor occurred on Monday September 12, 2016 at 03:10:48.80 seconds (GMT) with Local Magnitude of 2.6, Moment Magnitude of 2.9 with Focal Depth of 10km, while the epicentre was Latitude 10.879N and Longitude 7.188E.

This was followed immediately by another event at 03:11:20.00 seconds (GMT) located at an epicentre of Latitude 9.927N and Longitude 7.297E, Local Magnitude 2.9 and Moment Magnitude 3.0.

In their initial state of confusion in the wake of the first tremor, which tore through walls of buildings brought down ceiling boards, shattered louvers blades and brought down ceiling fans, some residents of the area were not tinkering with the idea of relocating from the community. Matters were made easy by assurances of their safety given by government, hence traders, workers, students and others went about their respective businesses.

But things got different after subsequent tremor-induced vibrations enveloped the community destroying several houses and property. Expectedly, some of the thoroughly shaken residents began to flee the community for neighbouring ones, in order not to be trapped if the tremor gets to tragic levels.

A community leader in Fada, Mallam Suleiman Yakubu, who witnessed the incidents, narrated that sounds that accompanied the tremors were at times so loud and scary. Since many people were afraid that something worse may happen, schools were immediately shut down. The schools include, “Mallam Maude School; LEA Central Primary School and Sabzuro Primary School, which were forced to close down.

Yakubu, who claimed that many have relocated from the community, added that: “Even the few people that elected to stay behind, as I speak, are now contemplating moving away to meet up with their relatives that have already relocated. They are also pleading with government to do something before a serious tremor happens.

“As this happens, workers at the Chief of Jaba’s Palace and some government officials are pleading that residents should stay put. I don’t know the rationale behind this staying put. The Jaba Local Council Caretaker Committee Chairman, Mr. Ben Kure, is also saying that people should be calm and stay where they are. But, the people are already frightened and in shock. And when you are in shock and this kind of thing keeps happening, what do you do?”

Yakubu continued: “With stories being bandied about, some of which even claim that the whole village could sink, there is no where people are not going to continue leaving, especially women and children. For now, people that are leaving are doing so on their own because the government is not doing anything for now regarding evacuation of people.

“The other day, a government official told us that government would provide canopies; emergency hospitals in case the unknown happens. But, what will be the use of those things? It will be a case of medicine after death. I think the best the government can do for us now is to make plans for evacuation of the people here. This tremor happened inside the town and it is still happening, ” he added

In a further elaboration of the incidents, the caretaker committee chairman said, having also witnessed some of it, all relevant agencies of government and their key officials have been communicated to. We are putting in place all necessary cautions and preparing for any eventuality.”

The council boss informed that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) had informed that, “So far, we have over 300 houses with cracks from outside. If we have more intense vibration, I foresee buildings going down because I know quite a few buildings that have already suffered cracks from down to top. That is why we are calling for more detailed investigation, so that we know if we are to begin to move. Let the Federal Government come along with the state government, so that we know how many people will be resettled and how they will be catered for. For now, we keep appealing to them to remain calm.

“It is mind boggling, very disturbing that within 96 hours we had 16 vibrations. I don’t think it is a mistake or a fluke. It is something that is real and becoming consistent. We don’t know how long it will last,” he added.

Kure who described the incident as the first of its kind in the state, lamented that the delay in providing answers to the many questions that youths were asking caused most of them to flee the affected communities.

He also explained that the local and state governments, have, however, taken steps to calm the youths, urging the Federal Government to step in with assurances of safety before the youths, who are good farmers desert the communities.

“A good number of youths came from different localities to the Emir Palace demanding solution to the problem. They were so restless and a good number of them have left. These are youths that are into farming. If a good number of them are moving away, at a time that our attention is now shifting to agriculture, in the face of the economic recession, then we are foreseeing a very serious and precarious situation in the near future.

“So, we have to focus on this situation and nip it in the bud, so that our young men can be rest assured that government is really equal to the task. I am telling you as local government chairman, when the first geologist came here and said we should be calm and not panic, people who had never experienced this before, not even an explosion of bomb, were not convinced.

“That notwithstanding, we are continuing to create awareness, using church and Islamic leaders, as well as, district heads to tell the youths, and everyone to calm down. We are also using the social media to appeal to them, and also doing so through local radio and television programmes. But the question they keep on asking is if their land was going down, even as we have informed them that government was bringing in experts to handle this issue professionally.

On the approach adopted by the local government to assuage the situation, Kure informed that government was considering the provision of temporary accommodation in other places for those that are running away.

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