Strong natural disaster strikes near Jamaica, shaking felt across the Caribbean

Nellie Chapman
January 29, 2020

A powerful quake has struck the Caribbean Sea between Jamaica and eastern Cuba, prompting a tsunami warning and shaking a vast area from Mexico to Florida.

The US agency said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles) on Tuesday, at 12:40 IST - 125 kilometers northwest of Lucea, Jamaica.

Mr Whittaker said there were reports of sinkholes opening in roads and auto parks, as well as damage to vehicles.

Angie Watler, a spokeswoman for police on Cayman Brac, the island nearest the epicentre of the quake, said members of the public had reported some damage to buildings and to a swimming pool at the Carib Sands resort on the south of the island.

"As of now, there are no injuries or structural damages".

There were several aftershocks, including one the US Geological Survey said had a magnitude of 6.1.

A tsunami warning is also in effect for Cuba and the Cayman Islands.

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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said that based on preliminary readings, "hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometers of the natural disaster epicenter".

This is the first quake with a magnitude greater than 7 in 2020.

"Hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts", the International Tsunami Information Center said. USGS estimates moderate shaking occurred on parts of Cuba and Jamaica, the two islands closest to the epicenter, and light to weak shaking across other parts of these islands.

The islands see 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.

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.

As the swaying and shaking became more violent, most people started to run; the ones who stayed behind got under their desks.

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