Caribbean earthquake of 7.7 prompts office evacuations in Miami

Caribbean earthquake of 7.7 prompts office evacuations in Miami

A powerful 7.7-magnitude earthquake has struck in the Caribbean, prompting brief tsunami warnings and office evacuations as far away as Florida.

The quake hit between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday.

Buildings shook and tremors were felt across the Caribbean, but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Some offices were temporarily evacuated in Miami and parts of Jamaica.

Warnings by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) were later withdrawn.

The PTWC initially said “hazardous tsunami waves” were possible for coasts located within 300km (186 miles) of the earthquake’s epicentre.

This included parts of Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, the Cayman Islands and Jamaica, it said. But in an update at around 20:45 GMT, the PTWC said the “tsunami threat had now largely passed”.

Seismologist Dr Lucy Jones tweeted: “The M7.7 Jamaican quake produced sideways motion on the fault, so the tsunami risk is low.”

The epicentre of the quake, initially reported as magnitude-7.3 before being upgraded, was 125 km north-west of Lucea, Jamaica.

Shaking was reported in the Cuban capital, Havana, in Kingston, Jamaica and Miami – some some 708 km from the epicentre.

A map showing where an earthquake struck in the Caribbean
The quake hit between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba

Pictures from Miami showed office workers gathered in car parks and thronging the streets after the quake struck at around 14:10 Miami time (19:10 GMT). There were no injuries or road closures, Miami police said.

USGS geologist Ryan Gold told the Miami Herald it was “completely reasonable” for a quake of that magnitude to be felt in Florida.

“It’s a very large earthquake which can produce a lot of seismic energy,” he said.

“I felt the house trembling and realised that it was a quake,” Kingston resident Jawara Rawjers told AFP news agency.

Machel Emanuel, a doctor in the same city, added: “I was on the second floor of a building and there was a sustained shaking of the building. I felt dizzy. The door was slamming consistently for a while.”

In the Cayman Islands, a warning to “move away from coastal areas” was issued by the government but stood down a few hours later.

On Twitter, Cayman authorities said there were “only a few reports of structural damage to buildings” and shelters were being opened as a precaution.

Mikhail Campbell, a police media relations officer in the Cayman Islands, told Reuters news agency he was not immediately aware of any reports of serious damage.

Courtesy: BBC