World

Puerto Rico, on alert for approaching Tropical Depression Karen, shaken by magnitude 6.0 earthquake

AP, AFP-JIJI

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck near Puerto Rico late Monday, rousing many from their sleep in the U.S. territory.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck 79 kilometers off the island’s northwest coast at a shallow depth of 10 km. Three aftershocks, of magnitude 4.7 and 4.6, hit within less than an hour in the same region at the same depth.

Kiara Hernandez, spokeswoman for the island’s Emergency Management Agency, said that there were no immediate reports of damage and that there was no risk of tsunami.

She said emergency management officials were already on alert for approaching Tropical Depression Karen and had communicated quickly with mayors and others across the island to check on any damage from the quake.

The National Guard had also been activated for the storm, and schools and government offices remained closed as heavy rains were forecast for Puerto Rico on Tuesday, with warnings of possible flooding and landslides.

Hernandez said crews would be inspecting buildings to ensure their safety.

“We will know this information little by little,” she said.

The quake was felt across Puerto Rico and was the strongest to hit the island in recent years. While Puerto Rico experiences very small earthquakes on a daily basis that no one feels, seismologists have said it’s rare for larger ones to strike the island.

Yahaida Zabala, a 46-year-old San Juan resident, was asleep when she felt her building sway Monday at around 11:23 p.m.

“I rushed into my son’s room,” she said. “He was sitting like he was paralyzed.”

They ran down the stairs of their building and stood outside with a small group of people awaiting aftershocks.

The last strong quake to shake the island in recent years occurred in January 2014, when a magnitude 6.4 tremor struck after midnight just north of the island’s north coast at a depth of 17 miles (28 kilometers). Authorities reported broken windows, a busted water line and cracked floors and walls, along with some power outages. Some 70 aftershocks were reported afterward, with at least three registering magnitudes of 3.5 or greater.

The most damaging earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in recent history occurred in October 1918, when a magnitude 7.3 quake struck near the island’s northwest coast, causing a tsunami and killing 116 people.

In 2010, nearby Haiti was struck by a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation’s infrastructure.

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