PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Wednesday December 7, 2016 – A 6.2 magnitude earthquake, followed by at least two strong aftershocks, rocked Trinidad and Tobago late yesterday, shaking buildings, sending items skating off supermarket shelves, and triggering fear in residents.
The first tremor hit at around 5:42 p.m. local time, just 16 kilometres south southeast of Scarborough, Tobago, at a depth of around 29 km. Almost immediately, social media was flooded with posts from people who had felt the shaking.
Later in the night, around 11:38 p.m., a 4.4 tremor struck 27 km west of Scarborough, followed by a 4.9 quake just after midnight, 15 km west of Scarborough.
The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Centre (SRC) had more than 1,000 reports on its Facebook page alone.
People living all over Trinidad and Tobago, as well as in nearby Grenada and as far as St Vincent and the Grenadines said they had felt the shaking which sent some of them running from their homes and other buildings.
Reports included people saying they felt the buildings they were in rocking and the ground tilting; a man who said he was “in a vessel in Chaguaramas on anchorage just off Gasper Grande island and felt it very strong here on the waters”; motorists seeing the road “wave”; and goods falling off supermarket shelves.
Even the length of the episode varied by account. Some said the shaking lasted for a few seconds, while others said it felt like it occurred for two to three minutes.
False information about a tsunami alert intensified the fear from the earthquake itself.
Both the SRC and Trinidad and Tobago’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) refuted the claim. The ODPM issued a statement that the rumour being being circulated through social media platforms was false and reminded residents that all pertinent information would be disseminated through the ODPM and the SRC social media platforms and public releases only.
“The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre (PTWC) provides tsunami alerts to the Caribbean and no warning has been issued by the PTWC,” the SRC also stated in a Facebook post.
There were reports of minor damage but no death or injuries as a result of the quakes.