A strong earthquake struck Northern Puerto Rico early Monday about 34 miles north of Hatillo municipality and caused minor damages including some power outages and floor cracks. No injuries have been reported so far. The earthquake is one of the largest quakes to hit the U.S. territory in recent years.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was out at sea and estimated its magnitude to be about 6.4. The survey also revealed the quake went approximately 17 miles deep.
A geologist with Puerto Rico's Seismic Network, Gisela Baez Sanchez, said at least 70 aftershocks of 3.5 or more magnitude have since been reported.
People living along the coast reported cracked walls and floors, broken windows and busted water lines. Authorities confirmed that power outages mostly occurred in the northern city of Bayamon which is next to Puerto’s capital of San Juan. Some people, however, reported buildings swaying in San Juan, about 61 miles (98 kilometers) from the epicenter of the quake.
The island’s government was criticized in the social media for not issuing a tsunami alert immediately after the quake. However, authorities have defended themselves saying they would have done so had there been risk of injuries.
According to Puerto Rico's emergency management agency spokesman, Carlos Acevedo, many people called the emergency services but no injuries have been reported. As a result, the agency has not issued a tsunami alert yet since the damages have been minor.
"No one has required our services." Carlos Acevedo said in a phone interview.
The last time Puerto Rico experienced an earthquake of a similar magnitude was in 1918 when a 7.3 magnitude earthquake hit the island and killed 116 people. In 2011, there was also a 5.4 magnitude quake that shook the island followed by another, occurring in Dec 2010.
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