Major earthquake rocks Haiti’s capital - Felt as far as Jamaica

January 13th, 2010 - 5:54 am ICT by BNO News  

Haiti quake HAITI (BNO NEWS) — A powerful earthquake struck near Haiti’s capital on Tuesday, prompting a tsunami watch for nearby coasts, officials said. Reports of damage are still sketchy.

The earthquake happened around 4.53 p.m. local time and had a preliminary magnitude of 7.0, according to the United States Geological Survey. It struck about 10 miles southwest of the country’s capital, Port-au-Prince.

About 10 minutes later, at 5.01 p.m. local time, a second earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 5.9 struck about 30 miles away from the first tremor. A spokeswoman for the United States Geological Survey said a second aftershock struck minutes later, at 5.12 p.m. local time, and had a preliminary magnitude of 5.5.

There was no destructive widespread tsunami threat following the earthquakes, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, who put the magnitude of the earthquake at a much greater 7.3. However, it said, there is a possibility of a local tsunami that could affect coasts located usually no more than 100 kilometers from the earthquake epicenter.

“Authorities for the region near the epicenter should be aware of this possibility,” the center said in a bulletin. “Areas further from the epicenter could experience small sea level changes and strong or unusual coastal currents.”

Because a tsunami threat exists to coasts within 100 kilometers from the epicenter, tsunami watches have been issued for Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.

Details of possible damage were still sketchy following the event. “There is a very good chance of significant damage,” the United States Geological Survey said. One report said a hospital on Haiti had collapsed, trapping people underneath the rubble.

A 7.0-magnitude earthquake is described as “major” and can cause serious damage over larger areas.

On Jamaica, small tremors were felt, said a person who picked up the phone at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. “I’m not aware of any damage,” Gregory said.
Haiti earthquake

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