A 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit near southern Puerto Rico on Saturday, briefly knocking out power and jolting many from their beds on an island.
The shallow quake damaged buildings, cracked homes and even disrupted power across the area, where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year.
Several aftershocks hit Puerto Rico’s southern region, including a 4.9 and a 4.6-magnitude. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit at a shallow depth of 2.5 miles (four kilometers) near the city of Ponce and the towns of Guanica and Guayanilla, where hundreds of homes were destroyed by a quake in early January that killed one person and caused millions of dollars in damage.
Reports of damage were still trickling in on Saturday, with at least one second-story balcony crashing in the southern city of Ponce, spokeswoman Inés Rivera told The Associated Press. Meanwhile, cracks in homes were reported in Guayanilla.
“Everything shook really hard,” spokesman Danny Hernández said by phone.
Icónico Museo de la Masacre de Ponce queda prácticamente destruído luego del temblor de esta mañana. pic.twitter.com/rCvm0ITUwj— El Foro de Puerto Rico (@elforopr) May 2, 2020
Meanwhile, in Guánica, Mayor Santos Seda told the AP that no major damage has been reported so far, but noted that between five to 10 people remain in a shelter since the 6.4-magnitude quake that hit in January.
“Thank God everyone is OK,” he said. “The infrastructure is already weak.”
Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, said in a phone interview that while it’s understandable many people are afraid and surprised by the most recent earthquake, it’s not unusual given the seismic activity that began in the region in late December.
“In the long run, it’s decreasing, but you can have peaks,” he said, adding that he expects strong aftershocks to continue.
Puerto Rico has been on lockdown for 1.5 months. People still haven’t received any money from any sort of stimulus fund. I have many friends completely unable to work. Now they had a 5.5 earthquake, no electricity in the South. These people have had enough! pic.twitter.com/deQRWEbaKy— Watchbird (@callthecorners) May 2, 2020
The earthquake struck as Puerto Ricans are ordered to remain home as part of a two-month lockdown.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez tweeted that rescue crews were fanning out across the area and that she would shortly be traveling there to meet with those affected in person.
? Magnitude 5.5 earthquake strikes Puerto Rico, causing some damage, latest in a series of jarring quakes to rattle the island— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) May 2, 2020
? Tsunami warning After an 6.5 EARTHQUAKE occurred in #CRETE, #GREECE | 2020-05-02 | 12:51:07 UTC | Location 34.07 N ; 25.72 E | Depth 40 Km
“If your infrastructure is damaged, you must leave with your face mask on and your emergency backpack,” she said as she urged people to remain calm.
But nerves are already frayed in many parts of the island as Puerto Rico continues to recover from Hurricane Maria, a string of strong earthquakes and the C-virus.
Silvestre Alicea, a 67-year-old man who moved back to Puerto Rico from New York upon retiring, lost his home in January’s earthquake and is still living with his sister in Guanica.
Meanwhile, another stong M6.6 earthquake hit off Crete, Greece just a bit more than an hour after the Puerto Rican quake:
“This is unreal,” he said, adding that some neighbors have left the area to stay with relatives elsewhere and that many, including a security guard who worked all night, are now sitting nervously in their balconies. “He hasn’t slept.”
Alicea, however, said he decided to knock down a couple of breadfruits from a nearby tree as the aftershocks continue: “I’m taking it easy. There’s nothing else you can do.”
And don’t forget “Cascadia the Big One”… It’s also just around the corner (follow the link above or click on the picture below):