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Puerto Rico Shaken by a Pre-Dawn 5.8 Magnitude Earthquake

The temblor struck off less than 10 miles off the southwest coast of the U.S. territory near the major city of Ponce at 6:32 a.m. local time (5:32 a.m. EST). It is not known if there were any reported injuries or deaths.

by Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel / January 6, 2020
Cars are crushed under a home that collapsed after an earthquake hit Guanica, Puerto Rico, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. A 5.8-magnitude quake hit Puerto Rico before dawn Monday, unleashing small landslides, causing power outages and severely cracking some homes. There were no immediate reports of casualties. AP Photo/Carlos Giusti

(TNS) — Puerto Rico was shaken by a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on Monday morning, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The temblor struck off less than 10 miles off the southwest coast of the U.S. territory near the major city of Ponce at 6:32 a.m. local time (5:32 a.m. EST). The quake occurred at a depth of 10 km, or less than 6 miles deep, and there is not threat of a tsunami, authorities said.

Several smaller earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or weaker were measured in the same area on Sunday as well as later Monday morning, and the area has been shaking with earthquakes with magnitudes of up to 5.1 since Dec. 28.

Reports on Twitter from Puerto Rico show some damage such as cracked foundations on buildings and at least one collapsed carport roof atop a vehicle.

Sen. Rick Scott posted to Twitter this morning saying, “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of #PuertoRico and those affected by this morning’s earthquake. I’ve reached out to officials on the island and will be monitoring the situation and how we can help our brothers and sisters.”

One image showed the collapse of a notable rock formation on the coast at Punta Ventana in Guayanilla.

It is not known if there were any reported injuries or deaths.

Power cuts were reported in some parts of the island after the quake, Angel Vázquez, director of emergency management for Ponce told The Associated Press. According to Vázquez, it was one of the most powerful earthquakes recorded since the earth began to shake on Dec. 28 and “lasted a long time.”

Dr. Sindia Alvarado, who lives in Peñuelas, a municipality in that region, said she was petrified.

“My whole family woke up screaming,” he said. “I thought the house was going to break in half.”

In a hotel in the town of Guánica, on the southwest coast of the island, people panicked trying to flee in their cars, but large stones occupied the only road north, toward the capital, San Juan, lawyer José Francisco Benítez told the AP.

Víctor Huérfano, director of the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, told the AP that the series of surface earthquakes was recorded in three faults located in the southwest region: Lajas Valley, Punta Montalva and the Guayanilla Canyon.

Tremors usually occur when the North American plate and the Caribbean plate squeeze Puerto Rico, and it is not clear when it will stop happening. One of the strongest and most devastating earthquakes in Puerto Rico was recorded in October 1918, an earthquake of magnitude 7.3 that hit near the northwest coast of the island, that caused a tsunami and killed 116 people.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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