UPDATED (4pm): Earthquake rocks Cayman

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UPDATE (6:06pm): The Cayman Islands Airports Authority has said flight operations have continued as normal. It confirmed that the airport terminal was evacuated and flights were interrupted due to Tuesday afternoon’s earthquake. It said once the earthquake was over as part of business continuity, all airport facilities were inspected for damage including the runway, aprons and taxiways. Once it was confirmed that there was no damage to the airport terminal, flight operations have continued as normal.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands has said that so far five tremors have been recorded since the 7.7 earthquake stuck the Cayman Islands region at 2.10pm. The strongest aftershock registered at 6.1 magnitude with the epicenter 35 miles east-southeast of East End.

Some businesses in George Town have opted to close early following this afternoon’s earthquake. Cayman Mac Store posted that it is closing early to allow staff members to take care of their families. It said it expects to be open tomorrow at 10am.

A Water Authority spokesperson says the company is getting more reports of outages and its team is assessing the issue and will have an update soon.

UPDATE (5:46pm): Government schools will be closed Wednesday following a 7.7-magnitude earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that rocked Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands.

The schools are closed to allow for structural assessments, according to Hazard Management Cayman Islands.

It also says the Red Cross Shelter on Huldah Avenue, George Town is opening at 6.30pm. The Aston Rutty Centre remains open. It is advising those returning to their homes after the earthquake to assess their structures and find alternative accommodations with friends, family or at the shelter if they see signs of structural damage/hazards.

The Department of Education Services (DES) says principals and education officials followed protocol to ensure the safety of the students and staff following the quake. In a statement issued a short while ago, DES said it was in constant communication with HMCI and principals, and once the threat of a Tsunami was significantly decreased, HMCI advised that it was safe to release students to the school buses for the evening’s drop off to their homes.
Students were released to those parents that came to schools to collect them. It said government schools will remain closed until a thorough assessment has been conducted on school buildings to ensure structural integrity.

UPDATE (5:15pm): A magnitude 6.3 aftershock was just confirmed by the USGS. This comes roughly an hour after a 4.7 aftershock.

The Premier and Governor this afternoon appeared on CIGTV to confirm that the tsunami threat has passed.

This from Premier Alden McLaughlin, “I know people are very concerned and alarmed and there has been some structural damage including at my own house,” he said.

“It is with a deep sense of gratitude that I say it doesn’t appear as if anyone has been hurt and we have been spared the worst of what could have been a truly devastating ordeal.”

UPDATE (4:14pm): A preliminary damage assessment is now under way and it has been confirmed that several sinkholes have opened up and at least one property has been structurally damaged, but there have been no confirmed reports of injuries to persons in the Cayman Islands, according to an HMCI press release.

UPDATE (3:45pm): The most serious tsunami threat appears to have passed.

The US National Weather Service listed the estimated time of arrival for any wave impact as 2.21pm on Cayman Brac and 2.37pm on Grand Cayman.

In a statement at 3.35pm, Government Information Services indicated, “Hazard Management advises that there is only a very low risk of a Tsunami following this afternoon’s earthquake felt across all three Islands. The possibility of aftershocks remains and members of the public are advised to stay vigilant and stay tuned to official sources of information including the Hazard Management website, FB  and Twitter pages.”

All three islands experienced the effects of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake believed to have originated 80 miles northeast of George Town, according to Government Information Services.

The Governor Martyn Roper appeared on Cayman Islands Government Television alongside Premier Alden McLaughlin and Minister Tara Rivers to confirm the islands had been impacted by a 7.7 magnitude earthquake just after 2.10pm.

He said, “I know it was a really scary event for all of us on the island at this stage there is a low risk of tsunami but residents are advised to move to the second floor or higher as a precaution.”

He added people should be aware of the threat of aftershocks.

The governor indicated there had been some structural damage on both Cayman Brac and Grand Cayman. He said the fire service and public works department were responding to those incidents.

Premier Alden McLaughlin spoke briefly in the bulletin saying, “We are doing everything we can to get as much information out to the public by as many media forums as we possibly can.”

He said Hazard Management website www.caymanprepared.gov.ky was the best source for official information.

Cayman Airways has suspended all non-essential services have been suspended for the day.
 
Ticket offices on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, as well as the Cayman Airways Reservations call centre, will be closed until Wednesday. All flight operations will continue today and tomorrow as scheduled, according to a CAL press release.
Water Authority customers are advised to call the Authority’s emergency line 946-HELP (946-4357), to report any wastewater issue along the West Bay Beach Sewerage System.
“Members of the public with septic tanks or onsite wastewater systems are advised to contact their sewerage specialist to inspect their systems for any damages and necessary repairs. Please note that the Authority’s offices remain closed,” according to a Water Authority press release.

(Original story)

An earthquake rocked the Cayman Islands Tuesday afternoon.

All three islands experienced the effects of a magnitude 7.7 earthquake believed to have originated 80 miles northeast of George Town, according to Government Information Services.

Hazard Management Cayman Islands is advising all residents to move away from the coasts and evacuate vertically. Cayman is one of several countries that could expect tsunami waves reaching up to three feet, according to a notice sent by the US-based Tsunami Warning Center.

Here’s their estimates for when a tsunami wave would hit:

CAYMAN BRAC CAYMAN ISLANDS 2:21 01/28
SANTIAGO D CUBA CUBA 2:33 01/28
GRAND CAYMAN CAYMAN ISLANDS 2:37 01/28
MONTEGO BAY JAMAICA 2:45 01/28
CIENFUEGOS CUBA 2:46 01/28
KINGSTON JAMAICA 3:24 01/28
COZUMEL MEXICO 3:34 01/28
PUERTO CORTES HONDURAS 3:38 01/28
TRUJILLO HONDURAS 3:25 01/28
BELIZE CITY BELIZE 4:48 01/28
SANTA CRZ D SUR CUBA 5:16 01/28
NUEVA GERONA CUBA 6:45 01/28

“Given that those times have passed, and we do not have a report of a significant wave coming on shore, I would think that the tsunami threat from the initial wave has passed,”  John Tibbetts, director general of Cayman Islands National Weather Service said. “However, be reminded, a tsunami is a series of waves and there is also the possibility for further tremors that are likely to occur over the next six, eight, 12 hours.”

Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and Jamaica could also experience Tsunami waves.

People close to the shore are advised to move away from the coast and evacuate vertically as a tsunami may have been generated, according to HMCI.

The quake is believed to have originated at a depth of just more than six miles, according to the United States Geological Survey.

It appears the quake has impacted local telephone service.

The earthquake caused sewage system issues in George Town, according to multiple sources.

Various locations were evacuated including the airport in George Town. Court proceedings were put off for the day. At the Health Services Authority, patients and staff were moved to upper floors. Residents in Cayman Brac have taken to the bluff as a safety precaution.

Sink holes have been reported at locations across Grand Cayman.

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. …… meanwhile CIG TV Channel 23 is broadcasting “live” news of last Friday’s landfill fire, Alden’s NY trip and Tara Rivers’ spiel about US film industry bad-mouthing Cayman’s financial industry, FLOW’s cellular network is over-burdened and thus effectively inoperative and NO official information from Government sources!!

    Great preparation for such potential disasters CIG!! Totally absurd!

  2. After the December 9 earthquake I posted a comment on another website that, based on my time in the Middle East, the Cayman Islands should prepare itself for further, and stronger, quakes in the area. My comment was treated with derision.

    Just to re-cap on that, we experienced a number of minor tremors that were followed by a 7.3 earthquake that destroyed one large hotel and did substantial damage to buildings in a large area round the epicentre – thankfully without loss of life. If the Cayman Islands are serious about promoting high-rise developments you might want to factor this into the planning rules.