Powerful tremor hits Puerto Rico

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The natural window disappears in Punta Ventana, Guayanilla

By Caribbean News Global contributor

GUÁNICA, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico is still recovering from hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that devastated parts of the Caribbean in September 2017, estimated to have killed 2,975 people and caused $100 billion (£75bn) of damage, was hit on Monday at 06:32 a.m [local time] by a 5.8-magnitude quake at a depth of 6km (3.7 miles), off the Caribbean island’s southern coast.

The stone arch, known as Punta Ventana, one of the biggest tourist attractions was destroyed, “Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon rests in everyone’s memory,” Glidden López, a press officer for Guayanilla council, wrote in a Facebook post.

“This is one of the strongest quakes to date since it started shaking on December 28,” emergency management director for the southern coastal city of Ponce, Angel Vazquez, said, “It lasted a long time.”

There were reports of severe damage to buildings, vehicles, landslides and widespread power cuts after the earthquake. More than 30 houses were heavily damaged by the earthquake. In the southern town of Guanica, Mayor Santos Seda said five homes had collapsed. No major injuries were reported.

“Look at my house,” said Silvestre Alicea, 66, who returned to Puerto Rico from New York City two years ago, moving into the house he had built over the course of 30 years in preparation for his retirement. “I was there, in there,” he said.

Puerto Rico is situated in the Caribbean tectonic plates is vulnerable to earthquakes. Previous quakes of lesser magnitudes in recent days have occurred along three faults in Puerto Rico’s south-west region of Lajas Valley, Montalva Point, and the Guayanilla Canyon. Puerto Rico is a US territory of around 3.2 million people.

 

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