4.5 quake hits Puerto Rico

Antelope Valley Press - - Second Front -

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A 4.5-mag­ni­tude earth­quake hit Puerto Rico on Thurs­day in the lat­est of a rare string of quakes that has fright­ened many in the U.S. ter­ri­tory.

The most re­cent quake oc­curred eight miles South of Guayanilla at a shal­low depth of four miles and was felt in the cap­i­tal of San Juan and else­where in Puerto Rico, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. No im­me­di­ate dam­age was re­ported.

“We haven’t stopped shak­ing,” said Án­gel Vázquez, emer­gency man­age­ment di­rec­tor for the south­ern coastal town of Ponce. “It’s the first time some­thing like this hap­pens.”

The flurry of quakes be­gan the night of Dec. 28, with a 4.7-mag­ni­tude quake fol­lowed by a 5.1-mag­ni­tude one that hit near Puerto Rico’s south coast and sent dozens of pan­icked peo­ple into the streets. Goods fell off su­per­mar­ket shelves, cracks in homes were re­ported in some coastal towns, and a large rock fell and blocked a road. No in­juries were re­ported.

Since then, more than 1,100 earth­quakes have oc­curred in that re­gion. The ma­jor­ity have not been felt, ex­cept for the 4.2-mag­ni­tude one that hit Dec. 31 and the one on Thurs­day.

“I’ve spent 29 years with Puerto Rico’s Seis­mic Net­work, and it’s the first time I ob­serve this kind of ac­tiv­ity,” di­rec­tor Víc­tor Huér­fano told The As­so­ci­ated Press. “There’s no way to pre­dict when it’s go­ing to end, or if it’s go­ing to lead to a ma­jor event.”

He said the flurry of quakes have been ex­tremely su­per­fi­cial and have oc­curred along three faults in Puerto Rico’s south­west re­gion: La­jas Val­ley, Mon­talva Point and the Guayanilla Canyon.

“In gen­eral, the force be­hind all of this is the North Amer­i­can plate and the Caribbean plate squeez­ing Puerto Rico,” he said.

A sim­i­lar clus­ter of quakes oc­curred last year along Puerto Rico’s North­west coast fol­low­ing a 6.0-mag­ni­tude earth­quake in late Septem­ber that led to more than 1,200 quakes in that area, Huér­fano said.

One of the largest and most dam­ag­ing earth­quakes to hit Puerto Rico oc­curred in Oc­to­ber 1918, when a 7.3-mag­ni­tude quake struck near the is­land’s North­west coast, un­leash­ing a tsunami and killing 116 peo­ple.

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