Puerto Rico Earthquake Measuring 6.4 Strikes; No Injuries Reported

Monday, 13 Jan 2014 01:08 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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An earthquake 35 miles north of the Puerto Rican city of Hatillo registered 6.4 on the Richter scale shortly after midnight Monday, causing power outages and breaking windows and water lines in Bayamon.

The Associated Press reported that people felt buildings shake in the Puerto Rican capital of San Juan, about 60 miles from the earthquake's underwater epicenter. While there were additional reports of cracked floors and building damage, no one reported injuries or major property damage Monday.

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"The damages have been minor," Puerto Rico's emergency management agency spokesman Carlos Acevedo said. "No one has required our services."

Some island residents complained via social media that the government issued no emergency warning, but authorities told the Associated Press that they would have sent an alert if people had been at risk.

Still, the island's Seismic Network Geologist Gisela Baez Sanchez said that Puerto Rico has experienced at least 70 aftershocks since the initial earthquake. She said at least three have registered a magnitude 3.5 or greater.

"All of Puerto Rico is in a seismic danger zone," Baez Sanchez told the AP. "We have to be prepared."

"The location, depth and mechanism of the earthquake are consistent with the event occurring on this subduction zone interface," read a U.S. Geological Survey statement on the Puerto Rico earthquake. "While the Puerto Rico Trench is known to be a significant seismic hazard, and is capable of hosting (magnitude 8.0 or more) earthquakes, moderate-to-large events on the subduction zone are rare." 

There has not been an earthquake in that particular area north of Puerto Rico since 1943. The first earthquake was a 6.6 quake in 1915, a 7.0 earthquake in 1917, and then a 7.3 quake in 1943, per the USGS.

Baez Sanchez told the Associated Press that Puerto Rico experiences small earthquakes daily that people cannot feel. However, it is unusual for bigger quakes to strike the island. She said that one was a 5.4-magnitude quake that shook the island in March 2011 and another of the same magnitude struck Puerto Rico on Christmas Eve in 2010.

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