Jamaica: 'Prophet' prompts earthquake debate

A busy shopping street in Kingston, Jamaica A busy shopping street in Kingston, Jamaica

A self-styled Jamaican "prophet" - who wrongly predicted an earthquake - has prompted a debate about the prospect of a natural disaster, it's reported.

"John the Baptist" told the The Star newspaper that God had planned a massive earthquake for 14 January. When it failed to materialise he said it was because of a lack of "repentance", and that the quake would hit the island on 14 March instead.

The story drew ridicule on social media and in the Jamaican press. Dr Parris Lyew-Ayee Jr of the University of West Indies told The Gleaner that "all the predictions and panic are nonsense". Instead of looking to auspicious dates, Jamaicans should take steps to make sure they are well prepared for a disaster, he said.

Last year Eric Calais - an American professor of geophysics - advised the Jamaican government that the island's location and history of seismic activity meant the threat of an earthquake was very real.

Whilst determining a precise date was deemed impossible, there appears to be a scientific consensus that the country could be hit by an earthquake measuring around 7 on the Richter scale at some point in the future.

Lyew-Ayee said the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management found 61% of Kingston's police stations, fire stations and medical centres were not up to standard - and urged the government to make improvements.

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