Mag­ni­tude 7.7 earth­quake hits be­tween Cuba and Ja­maica

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - NEWS - By Michael Weis­senstein

HA­VANA >> A pow­er­ful mag­ni­tude 7.7 earth­quake struck in the Caribbean Sea be­tween Ja­maica and eastern Cuba on Tues­day, shak­ing a vast area from Mex­ico to Florida and be­yond, but there were no re­ports of ca­su­al­ties or heavy dam­age.

The quake was cen­tered 139 kilo­me­ters (86 miles) north­west of Mon­tego Bay, Ja­maica, and 140 kilo­me­ters (87 miles) west-south­west of Ni­quero, Cuba, ac­cord­ing to the U.S. Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey. It hit at 2:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) and the epi­cen­ter was a rel­a­tively shal­low 10 kilo­me­ters (6 miles) be­neath the sur­face.

Dr. En­rique Arango Arias, head of Cuba’s Na­tional Seis­mo­log­i­cal Ser­vice, told state me­dia that there had been no se­ri­ous dam­age or in­juries re­ported.

Gov. Car­los Joaquín González of Mex­ico’s Quin­tana Roo, which is home to Can­cun, Tu­lum and other pop­u­lar beach re­sorts, said the earth­quake was felt in mul­ti­ple parts of the low­ly­ing Caribbean state but there were no early re­ports of dam­age or in­juries.

The Pa­cific Tsunami Warn­ing Cen­ter ini­tially warned that the quake could gen­er­ate waves 1 to 3 feet above nor­mal in Cuba, Ja­maica, the Cay­man Is­lands, Hon­duras,

Mex­ico and Belize, but is­sued a later mes­sage say­ing the dan­ger had passed.

The ini­tial tremor was fol­lowed by a se­ries of strong af­ter­shocks, in­clud­ing one mea­sured at mag­ni­tude 6.1.

The quake was felt strongly in San­ti­ago, the largest city in eastern Cuba, said Belkis Guer­rero, who works in a Ro­man Catholic cul­tural cen­ter in the cen­ter of San­ti­ago

“We were all sit­ting and we felt the chairs move,” she said. “We heard the noise of ev­ery­thing mov­ing around.”

She said there was no ap­par­ent dam­age in the heart of the colo­nial city.

“It felt very strong but it doesn’t look like any­thing hap­pened,” she told The As­so­ci­ated Press.

It was also felt a lit­tle far­ther east at the U.S. Navy base at Guan­tanamo Bay, Cuba, on the south­east­ern coast of the is­land. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of in­juries or dam­ages, said J. Over­ton, a spokesman for the in­stal­la­tion, which has a to­tal pop­u­la­tion of about 6,000 peo­ple.

Sev­eral South Florida build­ings were evac­u­ated as a pre­cau­tion, ac­cord­ing to city of Mi­ami and Mi­ami-Dade County of­fi­cials. No in­juries or road clo­sures were re­ported. No shak­ing was felt at the Hard Rock sta­dium in Mi­ami Gar­dens, which will host the Su­per

Bowl on Sun­day.

The quake also hit the Cay­man Is­lands, leav­ing cracked roads and what ap­peared to be sewage spilling from cracked mains. There were no im­me­di­ate re­ports of deaths, in­juries or more se­vere dam­age, said Kevin Morales, edi­tor-in-chief of the Cay­man Com­pass news­pa­per.

The is­lands ex­pe­ri­ence so few earth­quakes that news­room staff were puz­zled when it hit, he said.

“It was just like a big dump truck was rolling past,” Morales said. “Then it con­tin­ued and got more in­tense.”

Dr. Stenette Davis, a psy­chi­a­trist at a Cay­man Is­lands hospi­tal, said she saw man­hole cov­ers blown off by the force of the quake, and sewage ex­plod­ing into the street, but no more se­ri­ous dam­age.

Claude Diedrick, 71, who owns a fenc­ing busi­ness in Mon­tego Bay, said he was sit­ting in his ve­hi­cle read­ing when the earth be­gan to sway.

“It felt to me like I was on a bridge and like there were two or three heavy trucks and the bridge was rock­ing but there were no trucks,” he said.

He said he had seen no dam­age around his home in north­ern Ja­maica.

Mex­ico’s Na­tional Seis­mo­log­i­cal Ser­vice re­ported that the quake was felt in five states in­clud­ing as far away as Ver­acruz, on the coun­try’s Gulf Coast.

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