And while the reef is a mitigating factor - an aggravating factor is what is known as the Motagua fault and the Swan Islands transform fault. That's what's called a plate boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates, which has a history of rupturing in large earthquakes. In 2009 an earthquake along that same fault line caused a magnitude 7.3 quake which shook up southern Belize and badly damaged Monkey River and communities in the Toledo District.
That's when we spoke to Geologist Andre Cho by telephone. He told us that the reality is that Belize sits in an earthquake zone:â€¦
FILE: May 29, 2009
Andre Cho, Geologist
"Belize lies on the North American Tectonic Plate, Central America and the Caribbean Plate and there is a transformed plate boundary down there that is sliding, the two plates are sliding cross each other and so it cause faults in the rocks and as the rocks are sliding each other, friction holds them together and so energy is being built up in there and when the energy overcomes the friction it breaks the rocks and causes the energy to be released in the form of an earthquake. So once that energy has been released the major earthquake has passed and then like I said you will normally experience some tremors for some time after. Another earthquake won't occur again until that same scenario where it is built up again and then violently released."
"Are earthquakes a reality that we will now have to live with?"
"Yes it has always been so. because like I said we are right near to a plate boundary, the transplant plate boundary between the North American and Caribbean plate. Historically we just haven't experienced large earthquakes like this one or larger but we have always been in an earthquake prone zone and so an earthquake is a real hazard that we live with and we need to be prepared for."