GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands, Wednesday January 10, 2018 – A 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook the Caribbean Sea late last night, triggering tsunami warnings that were cancelled about an hour later.
The massive tremor – one of the strongest to hit the Caribbean in recent history – occurred around 9:51 p.m., between the coast of Honduras and the Cayman Islands, at a relatively shallow depth of 6.2 miles (10 km). Its epicenter was located about 202 kilometres north-northeast of Barra Patuca, Honduras, and 303 kilometres southwest of George Town, Cayman Islands.
Despite the strength of the earthquake and several aftershocks, no major damage was reported from the event.
Officials in Honduras said shaking was registered across much of the nation and there were some reports of cracks in homes in Colon and Atlantida provinces along the northern coast, and Olancho in eastern Honduras.
Following the quake, the National Tsunami Warning Center advised that hazardous tsunami waves were possible within 621 miles of the epicenter, which included the coastal areas of Jamaica, Mexico, Cuba, Belize, Costa Rica, Panama, Cayman Islands, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
There were reports of quickly receding water, up to 10 feet, along the shores of Belize. But as of 10:48 p.m., the tsunami warnings were called off.
The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Centre said although the tsunami threat was minimal, the effects of it could have been felt minutes after the earthquake occurred.
“This is often not enough time for officials to raise an alarm or warn coastal communities. As a result, people should know the natural warning signs and act accordingly,” it said.
“You may not feel the earthquake but if you see the sea withdraw an unusual distance and/or hear a loud rumble/roar, get to higher ground. Being aware can save you and your loved ones from this dangerous hazard.”
The quake came in the midst of Earthquake Awareness Week in Jamaica, which is being observed from January 7-13 under the theme ‘Preparing for the Quake Helps Reduce Damage After the Shakes’.
The last quake to cause massive damage in the Caribbean was the 7.0 tremor that devastated Haiti on January 12, 2010.