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Tsunami fears after earthquake rocks Caribbean

A former Bermuda journalist now in the Cayman Islands said an earthquake that rocked the Caribbean region yesterday and threatened a tsunami had caused “considerable anxiety”.

James Whittaker, a reporter at The Cayman Compass, said last night that he had been at his desk in George Town when his keyboard started to shake.

He added: “It took a couple of seconds to realise the whole building was shaking. The tremor lasted for about two minutes and we could feel the stairs moving as we evacuated the office.”

Mr Whittaker said: “There was briefly a tsunami alert ... and while that caused considerable anxiety, there was no evidence of any sea-level impact and the country's hazard management agency confirmed, just now, that the threat had passed.”

He added: “As far as we can tell, at this point, there were no injuries as a result of the earthquake and no major damage. We certainly felt it.”

Mr Whittaker, who worked at the now-closed Bermuda Sun, said there were reports that sinkholes had opened in roads and car parks and that vehicles had been damaged.

Alden McLaughlin, the Caymanian premier, said in a television interview that there had been “structural damage” in various places, including his own home. Mr Whittaker said the quake had left some “shaken, a little dizzy maybe, certainly everyone on the island felt it”.

A tsunami threat message was issued for several Caribbean and bordering countries after a massive earthquake struck near Jamaica. Jamaica, Cuba and the Cayman Islands were included in the message issued by the United States National Weather Service's Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre.

Waves of up to three feet high were said to be possible along the northern coast of Jamaica, southern coast of Cuba, most of the Cayman Islands, and the Caribbean coasts of the central American countries of Belize, Honduras, and Mexico. The warning was later cancelled. The 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck just after 2pm.

The epicentre was 72 miles northwest of Lucea, Jamaica, at a depth of 6.2 miles, the US Geological Survey said.

The tsunami warnings by the PTWC were later withdrawn.

The weather agency said yesterday afternoon: “Based on all available data, the tsunami threat from this earthquake has passed and there is no further threat.”

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Published January 29, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated January 29, 2020 at 8:24 am)

Tsunami fears after earthquake rocks Caribbean

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