Earthquake strikes near Cayman

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A magnitude-5.8 earthquake was felt
all around Grand Cayman – as well as other areas in the Caribbean – at 9.23am
Tuesday.

According to officials with Hazard
Management Cayman Islands, the quake struck about 32 miles east-southeast of Bodden Town
at a depth of 6.2 miles.

According to all reports, the quake
lasted no more than 10 to 15 seconds.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands
Deputy Director Omar Afflick said there were no tsunamis expected in the wake
of the earthquake. 

“We experienced, at the very least,
a tremor,” said local meteorologist John Tibbetts, just minutes after the
quake.

Mr. Afflick said several government
buildings were evacuated immediately following the earthquake, including some
schools.

There were no reports of major
damage to buildings, although phone lines were not functioning across Grand Cayman for a brief time.

David Archbold, managing director
of the Information and Communication Technology Authority said he had spoken to
both Digicel and LIME. Both companies reported no technical problems.

“There (is) local congestion in
some areas on mobile circuits, but there were no problems with the land lines,”
he said. “Because LIME has more infrastructure, they are still checking their
lines and equipment but they have had no alarms no reports of any problems.”

At 10am Tuesday, Director of Hazard
Management Cayman Islands, McCleary Frederick, said that residents could return
to offices and homes.

“Obviously in light of what has
happened in Haiti,
our residents are very sensitive to this type of occurrence,” Mr. Frederick
said. “We are fortunate that the Cayman Islands
appear to have come through unscathed, but it is reminder for everyone that
they need to know how to respond during an earthquake. In particular it is
important to duck under a strong piece of furniture, or at least protect the
head with (your) arms. “

The Cayman Islands 911 Emergency
Centre received a number of calls in the immediate aftermath of the quake, but most
were questions about whether or not an earthquake had hit or queries about why
phone lines were down.

There were no reports of injuries.

 

Damage report

What appeared to be the most severe
damage from the quake occurred in South Sound, as a large sinkhole opened up at
the waterfront apartments of Pirates Lair on South Sound Road.

The sinkhole, about 20 feet in
diameter, opened outside the apartments shortly after the earthquake struck.

The family against whose property
the sinkhole lies were evacuating the premises on Tuesday morning.

No cracks were evident in the
adjacent building, but the family said they were moving out as a precaution
because they had young children.

Residents of the condo complex
rushed home from their workplaces as they were informed of the sinkhole and the
area was being cordoned off.

In the Cricket Square office complex, located in
central George Town,
office workers were shaken up.

“It was so scary I could not
believe what was happening, considering what has happened in Haiti,” said Abigail Thompson, who
works at UBS.

Other office buildings in George Town, closed down
following the quake’s impact.

In Bodden Town,
there were no obvious signs of damage.

However, people there most
certainly felt the tremor.

Meddie Connor was behind the
counter at the Texaco in Bodden
Town when the tremor hit.

“Usually when a big truck goes
past, it shakes the building, so I looked around and there was no truck. So I
turned to my co-worker and said ‘let’s go’,” she said.

They ran out of the shop into the
open, but by that time it was all over. The only damage was two cans that fell
from the shelf.

Shaun Donn was at home when the
shaking started.

“It was heavy, man! I ran out of
the house in my underpants – I didn’t have time to put on my clothes,” he said.

According to Mr. Donn, the only
thing that happened to his home was that his roll-on deodorant fell off the
shelf.

In West
Bay, home owner Carroll Yates was in
Foster’s Food Fair by the Strand at around
9:30am.

Mrs. Yates said it was a traumatic
experience.

“A woman shouted to get out because
it was an earthquake,” Mrs. Yates said. “The store manager told people to get
out of the building.

“I even saw a woman come out of the
store clutching her heart and another woman grab her family and say “’let’s
pray’.”

“It all happened so fast I didn’t
have time to be scared. It was a good thing it was fairly empty in the store,
else people could have been trampled on.”

Upon returning to her North West Point Road
home, Mrs. Yates stated there was no damage to her premises or surrounding property.

Meanwhile, on West Bay Road part-time labourer Kenrick
Whittaker witnessed some of the after-effects of the tremor.

 “My uncle shook when he was talking to my
co-worker,” Whittaker said. “People on West Bay Road, round by Cayman Reef, ran
out of buildings wondering what happened. “

North Side residents seemed to feel
the effects of the quake less, and in Cayman Brac, hardly any effects were
reported.

“All I felt was a shake. The
toothbrushes rattled, but that was about it,” said Sheena Ebanks, who works at
Chisholm’s market in North Side.

“We felt it. It was just for a few
seconds and that was it. The glasses weren’t even rattling,” said Willmers
Bush, bartender at Over the Edge in North Side.

“No one that I’ve spoken to has
told me they felt (the earthquake,)” Sister Islands District Commissioner Ernie
Scott said.

Read much more about the quake in
Wednesday’s versions of the Caymanian Compass…

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A 20-foot diameter sink hole opened just in front of the water front apartments in Pirates Lair, South Sound Road following Tuesday’s earthquake. Residents of premises were evacuating Tuesday.
Photo: Norma Connolly
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