The Jamaica National Heritage Trust (JNHT) will be having an Open Day at Fort Charles, Port Royal on Friday, June 6, 2008 in observance of 316th anniversary of the earthquake that destroyed sections of the historic town. The Open Day will be held under the theme “Facing The Earthquake: The Port Royal Experience” and will begin at 10:00 a.m.

The JNHT is using the opportunity to remind Jamaicans of the potentially devastating effect of an earthquake and the importance of being prepared so as to minimize this effect.

The organisation will be facilitating tours to its Fort Charles heritage site, offering students and visitors a first hand view of the destructive nature of an earthquake. There will also be exhibitions from the Jamaica Red Cross, Ministry of Health, NEPA, Office of Disaster Preparedness (ODPEM) among others. In addition there will be film screenings, earthquake drills, panel discussions, cultural performances and live radio broadcast from the site.

Fort Charles in its heyday was almost completely surrounded by water. It was constructed like a ship with a 17th century floating castle at the bow. However in the 1692 earthquake, the fort sank 31/2 feet into the ground. In the 1907 earthquake there was further damage when the structure of the Giddy House was shifted to its present angle which accounts for the giddy sensation that is felt when one enters the building.

At a few minutes before 12 midday on Tuesday, June 7, 1692, an earthquake struck the city of Port Royal. A huge tidal wave destroyed ships in the harbour and carried one of the ships into the middle of the town. Many of the buildings were destroyed and most of the city disappeared into the sea. Over 2,000 people died and more than 3,000 had serious injuries. Many of the victims were swallowed up by the earth.
For further information contact:
Andrea Braham/ Coleen Douglas
JNHT Communications Division