Things That Matter

Christmas Brought A Pair Of Strong Earthquakes To Colombia And Left Residents Fleeing Their Homes

Colombia is no stranger of earthquakes. The country is located in a highly seismically active area – along the world’s ‘Ring of Fire.’ So the news of an earthquake on Christmas Day wasn’t a huge surprise given the country’s seismic activity, however, it still left many Colombians in shock as cities and towns shook from Bogota to Medellin.

Although the earthquake was strong, so far there are no reports of severe damage or deaths.

Central Colombia was shaken by two major earthquakes on Christmas Day.

Credit: The Weather Channel

Two strong quakes, of magnitude 6.0 and magnitude 5.8, struck central Colombia, according to the US Geological Survey. The quakes were strong enough that buildings shook.

The epicentres were very close to each other, about 93 miles south of the capital Bogota, and were very shallow, which amplified their effects and caused the shaking to be more widespread across the country.

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake is considered strong and is capable of causing severe damage, however, the area is not densely populated.

The quakes struck in the Caribbean Sea near the island of Providencia and about 19.9 miles from Lejanías, Colombia, according to the survey.

Shaking was felt across the nation’s capital city, Bogota.

Sirens howled across the Colombian capital of Bogota. According to many on Twitter, the sirens started in the middle of the shaking caused by the first earthquake and then gave several minutes warning before the second quake struck.

Like many countries along the Pacific Ring Of Fire, Colombia is home to a large earthquake monitoring system that allows officials to warn residents of impending earthquakes. Though the alarms often only give warnings of less than 90 seconds, this is often enough time to get outdoors or seek shelter in the most secure parts of one’s home.

Although shaking was felt across several major cities, the quake was centered in largely uninhabited areas.

The region of the epicenters is home to agriculture and oil activities, but the country’s disaster management agency said on its Twitter account it had not yet received any reports of damage.

A spokesperson for state-run oil company Ecopetrol, which has much of its infrastructure in the country’s eastern plains, said all installations were operating normally.

Earthquakes are relatively frequent in Colombia.

The Colombian region (in fact, the entire Pacific Coast of South America) has a well known high seismic risk, due to the triple junction that occurs at the northwest corner of the South American Plate where the Nazca, Cocos, and Pacific plates converge.

In fact, just 20 years ago Colombia was struck with a major 6.2 magnitude earthquake that left nearly 2,000 people dead. The earthquake hit Colombia’s coffee-growing region, and toppled tower blocks, hotels, and historic churches in Armenia. Most of the buildings that collapsed were old and poorly constructed, or were built on poor soil such as old landfill sites or steep slopes.The newer structures, for the most part, survived intact due to safety measures being established in 1984. The worst hit part of the country were regional capitals of Armenia and Pereira.

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