Before dawn on Monday, Puerto Rico suffered a 5.8-magnitude quake, which unleashed small landslides, caused power outages, and badly shattered some buildings. It was one of the strongest earthquakes that had already hit the U.S. region last week.
There were no immediate casualties rumors.
Another 5.1 magnitude quake struck later Monday at 10:51 a.m. Local time, chaotic queues, and terrifying southern Puerto Rican citizens who waited outside their homes because of concerns that buildings were destroyed and unsafe.
The first earthquake hit 6:32 a.m. South of the island at a relatively shallow depth of 6 miles, the USA claims. Geological services. Officials said that there was no tsunami threat.
Power failures have been reported in some parts of Puerto Rico after the quake, with the southern coastal city of Ponce, director of emergency management, Angel Vazquez.
“This is one of the most strong earthquakes ever since it began to shake on December 28,” he said. “It took a long time.”
Residents of the southern coastal towns started posting some of the collapsed houses and big boulders that blocked streets, as officials urged people to stay calm.
She is petrified, Dr. Sindia Alvarado, who lives in the southern coastal town of Penuelas.
“My whole family woke up and yelled,” she said. “I’m going to crack the house in half.”
In a hotel in south-western Guanica, people panicked as they tried to flee their vehicles, only to find that the only highway northbound to the capital, Jose Francisco Benitez told the AP, was blocked by large boulders.
“A state of fear prevailed,” he said. “There were even people walking around the hotel in their underwear.”
He said he was in the house with his girlfriend when the quake struck.
“I never thought such a thing,” he said. “It was like a giant grabbing and shaking our room.”
The flurry of quakes in the Southern region of Puerto Rico started on the night of 28 December, with earthquakes between 4.7 and 5.1. Previous earthquakes of smaller magnitude have split homes in recent days and caused goods to fall off supermarket shelves.
Victor Huerfano, the head of the Seismic Network in Puerto Rico, told the AP that the three faults in the southernmost area of Puerto Rico caused shallow quakes: Lajas Valley, Montalva Point, and the Guayanilla Canyon. He said the earthquakes all occur as Puerto Rico is squeezed by the North American plate and Caribbean plate, and it is uncertain whether they will stop or if more major quakes will take place.
One of Puerto Rico’s most significant and worst earthquakes occurred in October 1918, when a 7.3-magnitude tremor struck the northwestern coast of the island, causing a tsunami, killing 116 people.