Unusual seismic activity in the region began to spike in late December

By Helen Murphy
January 11, 2020 02:30 PM

Puerto Rico was hit with a 5.9-magnitude earthquake on Saturday morning, the latest in a tumultuous few weeks of seismic activity that has rocked the island.

The earthquake hit around the southeast coast of the island at approximately 8:54 a.m. local time, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and was followed by multiple aftershocks. No injuries were immediately reported, according to the Associated Press.

NBC News reported that the island’s power authority said about 5,000 customers were left without power following Saturday morning’s quake, which was the strongest since the devastating 6.4-magnitude quake that hit early Tuesday morning.

A geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey said Saturday’s quake is considered an aftershock to Tuesday’s quake, according to the outlet.

About 500 earthquakes measuring magnitude 2.0 or higher have hit the island since late December, according to CNN, leaving thousands of people displaced or without power.

Credit: Carlos Giusti/AP/Shutterstock
Credit: Carlos Giusti/AP/Shutterstock

Tuesday’s earthquake caused a power outage around the island and came less than 24 hours after two other quakes — registering at 5.8 and 5.1, respectively — hit the island on Monday morning, collapsing homes and causing landslides. A 6.0-magnitude aftershock was recorded three hours later on Tuesday.

Director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network Víctor Huérfano told the AP that Tuesday’s quake was expected to be “the largest quake for now” and that aftershocks will “continue for some time.”

Unusual seismic activity in the region began to spike in late December, and more than a thousand quakes have been recorded in that time. Most of them have been too small to feel.

At least one person has died as a result of the strong seismic activity. Nelson Martínez Guillén, a 73-year-old man from Ponce, was killed during Tuesday’s quake when a wall that was under construction in his home collapsed, Mayor Mayita Meléndez told the media, according to the New York Times.

The quakes also toppled the Punta Ventana, a stone arch shaped like a window that had been one of the island’s most popular natural landmarks.