String of quakes is rat­tling Puerto Rico

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By DANICA COTO

GUAYANILLA, Puerto Rico — Thou­sands of peo­ple fled their homes on Puerto Rico’s South­west coast on Tues­day af­ter a 10-day string of earth­quakes crescen­doed in a pow­er­ful mag­ni­tude 6.4 tem­blor that crushed an el­derly man, in­jured at least eight other peo­ple and sent build­ings tum­bling to the ground.

Hours af­ter the predawn quake cut power to the en­tire U.S. ter­ri­tory, a large swath of South­ern Puerto Rico was shaken by smaller quakes late into Tues­day af­ter­noon. Seis­mol­o­gists said there was no way of know­ing when the se­ries of quakes would ease, prompt­ing Puerto Ri­cans to stay with friends or fam­ily or even sleep out­doors far from the coast, fear­ful of col­laps­ing build­ings or a tsunami.

“I’m string­ing up my ham­mock,” said Miguel San­tana, a 38-year-old res­i­dent of the south­west coastal town of Guayanilla.

Alexan­dra Col­berg, 27, moved out of her deeply cracked home in the nearby town of Guánica with her hus­band and four chil­dren, pack­ing their mat­tresses, a re­frig­er­a­tor, a set of cur­tains and their clothes into two pickup trucks.

“What do I do with this?” asked her nine-year-old son, hold­ing a tiny pink bucket with a pet fish that sur­vived the earth­quake.

“We need to go, be­cause if not we could end up fall­ing down there,” Col­berg said as she ges­tured to the ground floor from the sec­ond story of her home. She and her fam­ily soon left for the moun­tain town of Hormiguero­s, where Col­berg’s grand­mother lives.

Most of the dam­age oc­curred in Guánica, where a three-story school col­lapsed.

The morn­ing quake cut elec­tric­ity to the is­land as power plants shut down to pro­tect them­selves. Author­i­ties said two plants suf­fered light dam­age and they ex­pected power to be re­stored later Tues­day.

Puerto Rico’s main air­port was op­er­at­ing nor­mally, us­ing gen­er­a­tor power.

Puerto Rico’s gov­er­nor, Wanda Vásquez, de­clared a state of emer­gency and ac­ti­vated the ter­ri­tory’s Na­tional Guard. She said some 300,000 house­holds re­mained with­out run­ning wa­ter late Tues­day, and sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple were in shel­ters.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Adrip­ina Seda pub­lic school stands par­tially col­lapsed af­ter an earth­quake struck Guanica, Puerto Rico, Tues­day.

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