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General News
GSD dismisses earthquake rumours 1/18/2010

Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - The Director of the Geological Survey Department (GSD), Mr John Agyei Duodu, on Monday urged the national security operatives to investigate the rumours of Sunday''s night''s earthquake that sent panic across the country.

He said they should fish out the brains behind the rumours and deal with them to serve as a deterrent.

Mr Duodu said persons who circulated the rumour must have done it out of mischief to create fear, which was facilitated by the recent earthquake in Haiti that led to massive destruction to lives and property.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra, Mr Duodu said the Department had its laid down procedures of circulating information to prevent unnecessary panic.

Mr Duodu said although the nation was not considered as an earthquake prone zone in the world it had had its fair share of earthquakes.

Giving the catalogue of the earthquake calendar of the country, Mr Duodu said there had been damaging earthquakes in 1615, 1636, 1862, 1906 and 1939. The one recorded in 1615, for example, destroyed Takoradi. In 1636, an earthquake occurred in Axim and the whole of East Nzema was badly shaken. It caused widespread collapse of buildings in that area.

The 1939 earthquake in Ghana which registered 6.5 on the Richter scale took the lives of 17 people and property worth one million British pounds were destroyed. Additionally, the country had experienced earthquakes in 1997 and 2003 with the most recent being in 2005. The earthquake prone areas in the country include Accra, Gomoa Nayano, Ho, Axim, Akuapem Ridge, Elmina, and Cape Coast. Mr Duodu said earthquake, as a natural disaster, could only be monitored and cannot be predicted. "Present technology has not made it possible for the detection of such natural disasters like earthquake and volcano. It is a natural disaster that cannot be seen. "What scientists have been able to do was to invent technology which can monitor its magnitude and the epicentre. after the occurrence. An earthquake occurs as a result the sudden release of energy in the earth''s crust that creates seismic waves. They are normally recorded with a seismometer, also known as a seismograph.

The moment the magnitude of an earthquake registers above 3.0 on the Richter scale, it causes serious damage over large areas. At the earth''s surface, earthquakes manifest themselves by shaking and sometimes displacing the ground.

When a large earthquake epicentre is located offshore, the seabed sometimes suffers sufficient displacement to cause a tsunami, Mr Doudu said.

He said, the shaking in earthquakes can also trigger landslides and occasionally volcanic activity.

Wild rumours of an imminent earthquake in Ghana on Sunday night sent a number of panic stricken Ghanaians onto the streets and the open where many spent the night. The panic was triggered on Sunday night, when rumour mongers, taking advantage of the Haiti situation, sent text messages round saying the country was about to experience a major earthquake. Throughout the night, Ghanaians spread the rumours using text messages, mobile and fixed line phones calls to warn their friends and relatives who reacted by knocking on doors and shouting out to other people to come out of their rooms to avoid the looming disaster . The original rumour cited the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the British Broadcasting Corporation as the source, but had proved to be unfounded. National security is investigating the rumours. Meanwhile The Ministry of Information has in a statement issued on Monday morning dispelled reports that an earthquake will be hitting parts of Ghana on Monday. The statement signed by Minister for Information Zita Okaikoi condemned the source of the " dangerous rumour" which has scared many families ever since it started spreading on Sunday night. Mrs. Okaikoi appealed to the public to go about their normal duties, adding that the Geological Services Department and the National Disaster Management Organisation had given an assurance that all is well. It is a known fact that parts of the country are sitting on an earthquake zone. Accra''s Macarthy Hill area is one of those areas and land developers have been warned to take precaution.

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