Major quake shakes Miami and the Caribbean, tsunami threat passes

VIDEO: REUTERS
Workers leave the Commerce Market building after a quake in Havana on Jan 28, 2020.
Workers leave the Commerce Market building after a quake in Havana on Jan 28, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

MIAMI (REUTERS) - A powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck the western Caribbean on Tuesday (Jan 28), triggering evacuations as buildings shook across the Cayman Islands, in Jamaica, and in downtown Miami, but with no initial reports of significant damage.

The epicentre of the quake was in the sea between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba, at a shallow depth of 10km.

The International Tsunami Information Centre said an earlier threat of a tsunami wave had largely passed.

Minor sea level fluctuations up to 30cm were still possible, it said.

In Miami, Florida, several buildings downtown had groups of people standing outside who said they had been evacuated.

The Miami-Dade Fire-Rescue department said it responded to multiple calls about high rise buildings swaying.

“As of now, there are no injuries or structural damages. Residents/visitors are advised to stay calm,” the department said on Twitter.

Officials across the region had no initial reports of major damage, despite the size of the quake.

Ms Angie Watler, a spokesman for police on Cayman Brac, the island nearest the epicentre of the quake, said members of the public had reported some damage to buildings and to a swimming pool at the Carib Sands resort on the south of the island.

Videos on social media, apparently from Jamaica and the Cayman Islands, showed water sloshing out of pools during the quake.

Ms Watler said there were no reports so far of injuries but that authorities were still making checks on the area.

A Cayman Islands official said there had been some reports of sinkholes following the quake.

The quake was also felt in several provinces across Cuba, the government said.

It was not strongly felt in the capital of Havana, according to a Reuters witness.