Buildings in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas were evacuated Tuesday after a powerful earthquake was recorded off the northeast coast of the country, sending shock waves as far west as Bogotá, Colombia, and as far east as Trinidad and Tobago.
The U.S. Geological Survey said a 7.3-magnitude quake struck 12 miles northwest of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela. The U.S.G.S. recorded its depth to be 76 miles.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said at 6 p.m. there was no threat of a tsunami as a result of the earthquake, after a preliminary report that “hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 km of the earthquake epicenter.”
The earthquake was also felt strongly in Trinidad and Tobago, and much of the eastern Caribbean including Grenada, Guyana, Barbados and as far north as St. Lucia. There were no reports of damages in Grenada and Guyana, where people ran out into the streets in pandemonium to see utility poles shaking. In Grenada, there was a report of a landslide.
The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center reported that there were at least seven aftershocks from the earthquake, about one every three minutes. The quake was measured at a magnitude of 6.9 in Trinidad and lasted 90 seconds, seismic specialists said. They also noted that it was one of the strongest earthquakes to hit the country since 1968.
“Based on the observations so far, Trinidad suffered minor damages,” Illias Papadopoulos, a seismologist at the University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center told the Miami Herald. “It should be noted, though, that the information collected over the years indicates that this is not the biggest possible event we expect in the vicinity of Trinidad & Tobago.
“Historically, we have evidence of even larger events, which are expected to cause higher levels of ground shaking, and consequently more damage. ‘’
The Trinidad Express reported that the country was “stunned” by the quake as residents fled their homes.
“That was so scary,” Vaughn Ramdeen, who lives in Arima, Trinidad, tweeted. “Couldn’t do anything but remain in one spot. Still trembling. The house was shaking like crazy. We ran out. Thankfully there are no power lines so didn’t have to worry about anything falling on us. It lasted about a minute.”
Electricity and telephone outages were reported in some parts of Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago’s capital. Videos circulating on social media showed groceries falling off store shelves, buildings with cracks, and a piece of a mountain in Chaguaramas along Trinidad’s northwest peninsula falling into the ocean.
There were no immediate reports of casualties as the country waited to hear back from disaster and preparedness workers who fanned out across the country to provide a report.
The Associated Press reported that the earthquake briefly interrupted a pro-government rally in Venezuela. State television captured the frantic moments after the quake when Diosadado Cabello, the head of Venezuela’s constitutional assembly, was giving a speech at the demonstration, the AP said.
Attendees could be heard yelling as Cabello looked around.
Footage taken by a journalist in Caracas and posted on Twitter showed residents rushing out of buildings and yelling in panic.
Nestor Luis Reverol, the interior minister of Venezuela, also took to the social media platform and said that the government was ready to handle “any emergency.”
“We are calling on the entire country of Venezuela to remain calm,” he tweeted.