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Dublin pupils detected quake shockwaves

The vibrations from the devastating Haiti earthquake were picked up by a seismometer at a school in Lucan just 15 minutes after it struck.

The quake is the second natural disaster in four months to be registered on the instrument at St Joseph's College.

The device also picked up vibrations from the 7.9 magnitude earthquake in the Pacific Ocean which caused a tsunami in Samoa last October.

Transition year students at St Joseph's College won the seismometer in a physics competition last March.

Epicentre

Physics teacher Declan Doherty explained that whenever a major earthquake occurs, he receives a text message from the Geophysics Section of the Dublin institute of Advanced Studies informing him.

The seismometer is linked to a computer which maps out the longitude and latitude of the earthquake's epicentre.

Minutes after the earthquake struck at 4.53am local time, and 9.53pm Irish time, Mr Doherty received a text message informing him that the location was in the Haiti region, 18.457 degrees north, 72.533 degrees west.

The school's seismometer picked up the initial 7.3 magnitude main earthquake, and several aftershocks with heavy vibrations continuing for up to an hour.

"The students were very curious to find out whether we had actually detected the earthquake. The students are collecting money at the moment for the Haiti disaster," Mr Doherty told the Herald.

Meanwhile, more than 25 tonnes of badly needed emergency medical and food supplies for the earthquake survivors in Haiti were set to be flown in today by Aer Lingus in an airbus to La Romana airport in the Dominican republic.

The mission, organised in co-operation with GOAL will also bring 15 doctors and volunteers to Haiti.

A strong aftershock in Haiti on Wednesday failed to disrupt the first major consignment of emergency aid from Ireland getting into the disaster zone.

fdillon@herald.ie