Last April when an 8.2 magnitude quake was registered in Iquique, many foreigners were impressed by the Chileans templance because when facing a similar situation they would have been terrified. Something similar happened this Wednesday and Thursday when an 8.4 massive quake shocked the Chilean coast, with an epicenter in the Coquimbo Region, people were undisturbed and calmly took the necessary precautions.
When the first tremor choked the North of our country, the Chilean Carolina Robino, BBC’s World editor, used her position on this media, to explain to her colleagues and other citizens from non-seismic countries, the serene attitude of her compatriots.
“The first thing I told them is that we got used to it. Throughout its history, Chile has been shocked by many earthquakes. In fact, the biggest ever registered (of 9.6 magnitude) occurred in the southern city of Valdivia in 1960”, the journalist said.
According with Robino, since they’re children, Chileans know that tremors would be part of their lives. “It is unavoidable. Eventually, the soil will move under our feet. From early stages of our lives we participate in simulations organized by the schools and we learn that keeping calm and evacuate in order is the most secure and efficient way” she commented.
In a similar manner, Robino related that in our country many buildings are anti-seismic, thus, we know that it’s not that easy for a building to collapse, unless they are old or have structural failures (but luckily that is not common).
“It is not that we don’t get scared- there is people who panicked and run away terrified. Or worst, they died due to a heart attack-. But the majority of us, learned how to put quakes in perspective. And to await”, she assured.
Carolina pointed out “If the quakes happen at night and you are in bed, you take the time to consider if is necessary for you get up. To be fair, most of the times, it´s not necessary. The earthquakes not even start with big tremors. The intensity could increase gradually, from an almost imperceptible quake to one in which it is impossible to stay standing”.
“If the tremor doesn’t evolve, I even enjoy it. It can be exciting to feel and hear how the earth is releasing energy”, she confessed.
Robino mentioned that even if the movement it’s strong and uncontrolled, the reaction can be one of calm. We also know that every quake is different.
“Sometimes they are wavy, sometimes the predominant movement its vertical, and others horizontal. When a tremor catches you by surprise on the street, the wisest decision is to seek for shelter far away from poles, cables, and constructions that eventually can fall over you”. She expressed.
Even though she was not in Chile when the 8.8 magnitude quake of 2010 devastated part of the country, Carolina revealed that she saw the catastrophe result and the lessons learned from this event. “During the 2010 earthquake, I was in London. It had a magnitude of 8.8 and more than 500 people died, mostly because of the tsunami. A very sad day for the country”, she sentenced.
She stated that even though the environment was terrible because of the numerous materials and personals losses, people cheered up by telling funny anecdotes related to the event.
“My favorite one it’s about a couple who jumped out of bed as soon as the tremor begun. She run to her children’s bedroom and he leaped on the TV. His logic, he told me, was if his wife took care of the children, he could tried to save another thing”.
Carolina indicated that because this seism was too strong and destructive, people took more conscience on the steps to follow and the measures that must be taken when facing an event like this. Some myth ended. It was learned how and where people needed to evacuate, and which things to have on hand, besides other things.
Before this quake we thought the best way to be protected inside a house was to stand under a door frame, now we know that it is better to kneel at the side of the bed, where less objects can fall, and that’s what we do”. She assured.
To finish, the columnist said that the reason Chileans do not run terrified is not out of habit, but “because we know that the movement can be so strong that walking would be barely possible. Although there is something primitive, also atavistic, it comes from the moment the earth start to tremble and you know that there is no place to escape, because the soil were we would run it’s moving too”.