M7.7 quake hits Caribbean off Jamaica: USGS

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jan 29 2020 04:40 AM | Updated as of Jan 29 2020 05:58 AM

USGS image

(UPDATED) A major 7.7 magnitude quake struck Tuesday in the Caribbean between Jamaica and Cuba, triggering a brief tsunami alert and sending hundreds of people pouring onto the streets of Havana.

The tremors were felt as far as the US mainland as police in Miami evacuated some buildings as a precaution.

The US Geological Survey said the quake hit at a depth of 10 kilometers (six miles), at 1910 GMT -- 125 kilometers northwest of Lucea, Jamaica.

It estimated there was a low likelihood of casualties or damage, and there were no immediate reports of either.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned there was a threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meters (about 1 to 3 feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. But it lifted the alert update about two hours later.

The quake rattled several tall buildings in the Cuban capital Havana, which were immediately evacuated.

The earthquake was felt in several provinces including Guantanamo and Santiago de Cuba in the east, Cienfuegos in the center and Havana in the northwest, the official Cubadebate website reported.

But there were no preliminary reports of damage or injuries, however.

Jawara Rawjers, a resident of Kingston, Jamaica told AFP: "I felt the house trembling and realized that it was a quake.

"It lasted about 20 seconds. I checked my watch and it was 2:12 pm. I checked on my family but they didn't feel anything in their part of the house."

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."

Many Jamaicans took to social media in the immediate aftermath to post pictures, unverified by AFP, of swimming pools shaking violently.

In Miami, police said some buildings were being evacuated as a precaution after reports of tremors being felt in some areas of the city.