By Dialogo March 01, 2012 With an area of slightly over 521,000 km2 and 42 million inhabitants, Central America is located on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire” and is subject to a high level of earthquake activity generated by four tectonic plates and a chain of volcanoes. The meeting’s specific objective “is to create those specialized (rescue) teams, so that they can respond immediately and arrive in minutes, not hours,” Morales emphasized. These teams, called “response units,” are expected to be made up of “the best human resources,” both to rescue flooding victims and to rescue victims from structures collapsed by earthquakes. The work of these teams will be supported by technical units made up of seismologists, volcanologists, oceanographers, meteorologists, and experts in other areas. For Morales, the regional panorama is made more complicated because “climate variability” makes precipitation levels “unpredictable.” “Our major challenge this year is to create rescue teams capable of taking immediate action in any country in the region, under a Central American flag,” declared Iván Morales, the director of the Coordination Center for the Prevention of Natural Disasters in Central America (CEPREDENAC). Representatives of Central America’s civil-defense systems, meeting in San Salvador, are working on designing a rapid-response system that can make it possible to save lives in cases of natural disaster, the organizers announced. The frequent hurricanes along the region’s 5,570 km of coastline are another threat, both in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, resulting in landslides, hundreds of rivers bursting their banks and flooding. Around 75 delegates from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, and Belize are participating in the conference, which began in the Salvadoran capital on February 28 and will continue until March 8.