Big Portugal earthquake would destroy much of Britain
The Isles of Scilly and parts of Cornwall would be worst hit if there were a repeat of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake destroyed Lisbon and nearby areas and had a magnitude in the range of 8.5 on the Richter scale. Experts believe that a quake similar to that one would send a a three-metre high wall of water towards the United Kingdom.
The tsunami would crash over the tip of Cornwall within a few hours, leaving much of the coast underwater and wiping the Scilly Isles off the map. The prospect of the natural disaster was raised at a meeting of the Devon and Cornwall Local Resilience Forum (LRF), which includes police, town planners and emergency services.
Members of the LRF told they fear Britain could suffer its own version of the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami and they want an early warning system to alert people living on the coast, similar to technology used across Asia and America.
Britain was last hit by a tsunami in 1755, the year of the great Lisbon earthquake, the meeting in Bristol was told. In the event of an earthquake in the Atlantic, the public would currently rely on the British Geological Survey to register the quake and the arrival of a subsequent wave at nearby Portugal. Neil Hamlyn, LRF coordinator in Devon and Cornwall, said: "The Isles of Scilly could be affected greatly, the islands could be covered and disappear."
Under the Civil Contingencies Act of 2004, the UK maintains a National Risk Register of Civil Emergencies. A tsunami is in the top 20 of the second category of high risks. ■