Thursday April 10th an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.2 on the Richter scale struck Managua, the capital of Nicaragua in the department of Leon. Following this earthquake, on Friday April 11th a second earthquake of a magnitude of 6.6 occurred, its epicentre located 11 kilometres southwest of the town of Nandaime, within the department of Granada. More than 1,000 aftershocks continue to rock the Pacific coast, leading the national authorities to declare a "Red Alert". The World Food Programme (WFP) is prepared to respond to this emergency.
The epicentre of the earthquake on Thursday, April 10th was located on the shores of Lake Managua affecting the capital, Managua and the department of León. The authorities of the National System for Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters (SINAPRED), the main coordinating body of public institutions for emergency response, report the death of one person, who died of a heart attack from the stress and anxiety caused by the earthquake. An estimated 260 people have been reported injured and extensive damage has been done to homes, buildings, and roads. The Government suspended classes, and evacuated families from vulnerable areas and demolished old buildings that endangered the lives of the people who inhabited them.
Nicaragua is one of Central America’s most vulnerable countries to recurring natural phenomena. Forty two years ago an earthquake measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale completely destroyed the capital city of Managua, killing about 10,000 people. Given the vulnerability of the country, WFP initiatives in Nicaragua include supporting the government in preparing for and responding to emergencies, strengthening national capacities, providing technical and food assistance to affected populations, promoting approaches Human Rights Protection and Gender. Pictured, WFP participates in a simulation exercise conducted by the Government of Nicaragua in preparation for the response to an earthquake.
"This earthquake was a litmus test for national authorities. The preparedness and preventative actions produced the expected results and the government's response has been immediate and effective, "said WFP Representative, Helmut W. Rauch, who is pictured with the Director of SINAPRED, Guillermo Gonzalez at a humanitarian preparedness and response event. "Nicaragua is a highly seismic country, due to its geological location”, said Rauch.
WFP is leading the United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) in Nicaragua, composed of specialized personnel from all UN agencies that are responsible for coordinating the response to emergencies. WFP also coordinates the Logistics and Telecommunications Committee of the United Nations. WFP in Nicaragua continuously updates their knowledge base and skills to be prepared for natural disasters. Workshops are provided not only to WFP personnel but to staff members of public institutions.
"I was very scared. I thought the trees outside of my house would collapse on us, "said Helena Chavarria, WFP staff member in Nicaragua after the earthquake yesterday evening. "The earthquake was so strong that I was nearly knocked off my feet," said Marc Regnault de la Mothe, WFP Deputy Representative and Security Focal Point. "The last tremors made me dizzy, they were very strong, "said Karen Lopez from the WFP administration department after being evacuated from their third floor office. In the photo, WFP staff after being evacuated from their office due to powerful aftershocks. The Red Alert remains in Nicaragua.
The priority of SINAPRED is immediate emergency response to those affected by natural disasters, satisfying their needs and ensuring their wellbeing, safety and welfare. Through the collaboration of SINAPRED and WFP, together they prepared the Manual of Protection and Gender in Response to Emergencies and the Guide on Food Distribution in Emergencies focusing on the best practice guidelines to care for affected population. The manuals were distributed to the members of the Regional Committees, Departmental and Municipal committees dedicated to the Prevention, Mitigation and Attention to Disasters.