14 June 2007

Earthquake on 13 June 2007

On the 13th of June, a massive event changed the temporary face of Guatemala: At 2:30pm Eastern Time, CNN reported an earthquake of massive and deadly porportions -- a 6.4 on the Richter scale that rocked Guatemala and would likely result in the deaths of hundreds if not thousands.

The problem with this report was that it wasn't exactly true. Furthermore, CNN Latin America apparently translated the word Earthquake to Terremoto. In Guatemala (and I suspect all of Central America), there are three words for earthquakes: temlor (like tremor), sismo (as in seismic event) and terremoto, which is an earthquake that has caused some manner of destruction. In addition, the US Meteorological service, which reported as a 6.4 on the Richter scale, overestimated, as it turned out to be a 5.6. Now, while a 0.8 difference doesn't seem like a big issue, one must remember that the Richter scale is logarithmic with a base 100, which means an earthquake at 6.4 is roughly eighty times as strong as a 5.6. Oops.

After the CNN report, other news stations issued similar reports, and Guatemala went into a panic. Everyone from the Capital City police to the Department of Agriculture issued alerts, and the news interviewed locals nearest to the earthquake and how they faired. Turns out not one house was destroyed, and not one person in the nation has been reported injured, not even slipped in the bathtub. Well, better safe than sorry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We called those temblors.

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