Readiness in case of an earthquake

JP Smith, Mayoral
committee member for
safety and security 

The City of Cape Town
notes the widespread
public interest in the
tremors that were
experienced in parts of
the metropole over the
weekend. 

There have
subsequently been
some questions about
Cape Town’s readiness
to deal with the impacts
of an earthquake, and
whose responsibility it
is to co-ordinate such a
response. 
There are numerous
aspects to consider –
first of which is what
qualifies as a major
earthquake. 
According to the
Council for Geoscience
(CGS), the difference
between an earthquake
and an earth tremor
lies in the magnitude of
the event.
Within the South
African context, a
seismic event with a
magnitude lower than
4.0 is considered a
tremor. 
Although
earthquakes cannot
be predicted and
we do not have early
warning systems for
them, the CGS does
have tsunami sensors
and early warning
systems to ensure the
public is notified of any
impending tsunami
threats.
In the event of a
major earthquake, the
Council for Geoscience
and South African
Weather Service will be
the lead agencies. 
The City’s Disaster
Co-ordinating Team
will co-ordinate
responses to the
potential impacts,
involving both internal
and external agencies
including the SAPS,
SANDF, EMS Urban
Search and Rescue,
SPCA etc.
The City’s Disaster
Risk Management
Centre has emergency
response plans for
a range of potential
disasters, including
earthquakes – these
plans are reviewed
annually and disaster
readiness exercises with
all relevant role players
are held to test systems
on an ongoing basis. 
As with any potential
disaster, an effective
response relies on
the involvement of all
concerned, including
the public.
Information on
what residents can
do in the event of an
earthquake, is available
on the City of Cape
Town’s website. 
The public is
further reminded
that the City’s
Public Emergency
Communication
Centre (PECC) should
be their primary
contact point in the
event of an emergency. 
We urge residents
to save the number on
their cellphone: 021
480 7700. The PECC is
also contactable from
a landline, by dialling
107.