Earthquake under Greater Victoria could kill 1,500, injure thousands: report
CTV Vancouver Island
Published Wednesday, September 2, 2015 6:03PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 2, 2015 6:33PM PDT
Death, damage and destruction: experts are painting a terrifying picture of what could happen if a large earthquake strikes right underneath Victoria.
The B.C. government laid out the worst-case scenario in the B.C. Earthquake Immediate Response Plan, despite the fact that a shallow earthquake striking right beneath the city would be very rare, according to seismologists.
The report suggests the quake could kill as many as 1,500 people and injure more than 19,000.
“For many, the earthquake is heard, before it is felt. The low, rumbling sound is similar to that of a freight train, immediately followed by 10-20 seconds of violent shaking that knocks people located closes to the epicentre from their feet,” one hypothetical scenario reads.
Windows would break, showering the streets below with glass, while entire walls from unreinforced masonry buildings would crumble onto the streets, according to the report.
“Many of those who try to run outside suffer extreme injury or death from falling and flying objects and thousands are trapped or injured. Dust, smoke and sirens fill the air.”
Emergency Management Victoria officials emphasized that the nightmarish description is a worst-case scenario – but the organization always tried to be proactive when it comes to disaster preparedness.
“The City of Victoria is constantly preparing, there’s no point where you can reach and say ‘I am prepared now, we are prepared.’ You’re always learning, you’re always improving, you’re always building to capacity,” said Kulpreet Munde, the city’s Deputy Emergency Coordinator.
Areas that would be hit hardest by a quake are those with soft ground, because shaking would be amplified.
According to the province, one of those areas in Greater Victoria is the area surrounding Swan Lake.
Still, experts agree that the earthquake contemplated in the study is highly unusual because it’s close to the surface and not off-shore.
“The probability of these very large events, certainly, is very low, so I don’t think there’s any reason for the public to feel panicked about it, ” said Honn Kao, a seismologist with the Geological Society of Canada. “Although I have to emphasize the being prepared for any earthquake risk is definitely something that everybody has to be paying attention to.”
He said an off-shore earthquake is more likely, and most of the damage would be felt on the Island’s west coast in the form of tsunamis.
Experts remind you to drop and seek cover if you feel or hear an earthquake rumbling.
For the first time since Hurricane Katrina, the Heavy Urban Search and Rescue team is being deployed outside B.C. to help. (CTV News)