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Powerful Earthquake Strikes Caribbean, But No Reports Of Injuries Or Damage

Jan 28, 2020
Originally published on January 29, 2020 10:04 am

Updated at 9:45 p.m. ET

A powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands on Tuesday, startling people as far away as Miami and prompting official tsunami alerts for a large area of the Caribbean that were later withdrawn.

The quake, initially reported as 7.3 magnitude before being upgraded, was centered 86 miles northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 87 miles west-southwest of Niquero, Cuba, at a depth of just 6 miles, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It struck at 2:10 p.m. ET.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or injuries, but social media was flooded with photos and video from people documenting the event. In the Cayman Islands, video showed damaged streets and sinkholes opened up by the violent shaking.

A tsunami alert was issued for a wide swath of the Caribbean. However, it was later canceled.

Knolly Moses, an ad executive in Jamaica, told NPR that the quake was long and strong, with the walls of his office rippling.

"This one was serious. It put the fear of God into many people today," he said.

In the Cayman Islands, where there was a strong 6.1 magnitude aftershock, videos on social media showed sinkholes and damage to streets. Skyscrapers in downtown Miami were evacuated.

The Associated Press reports that the quake was felt strongly in the Cuban city of Santiago.

"We were all sitting and we felt the chairs move," Belkis Guerrero, who works in a Catholic cultural center in the center of Santiago, told AP. "We heard the noise of everything moving around."

She said there was no apparent damage in the city. "It felt very strong but it doesn't look like anything happened," she told the news agency.

The quake was also felt in Mexico's Quintana Roo state, where Cancun is located, Gov. Carlos Joaquín González told AP.

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