The day after the earthquake, landscaper Curtis Bush found himself staring down a sinkhole in West Bay Cemetery, at the edge of which a small gravestone balanced precariously.

On Wednesday morning, he and other workers were assessing damage at the graveyard following Tuesday’s 7.7 magnitude earthquake.

“We saw some holes in the cemetery,” he said, pointing to the grave and saying, “It looks like it’s a baby grave that has gone down, and the ground looks kind of cracked up.”

Bush said that there were no holes visible on the beach.

He was at his home when the quake struck.

Curtis Bush points at a small grave that is partially hanging into a sinkhole at West Bay Cemetery.-Photo: Taneos Ramsey

“I was at home lying in bed and my head started to feel funny, and after that I felt my bed start to shift. When I got up out of the bed, I almost fell,” he said. “When I got to my dining room table, the chandelier was going back and forth, and some pictures were dropping off the wall.”

Neighbour Pam Johnson said she had been pulling into her home in her car when the earthquake hit.

“As I opened the garage door, [it] was shaking, and I thought, ‘What the heck is going on?’ It sounded like it was stuck or something,” she said. “It was just rattling and I got out of the car and then I realised that everything was moving; our whole studio above the garage was moving.”

Johnson said she was surprised how long the tremor lasted. Shortly afterwards, she said, she noticed lots of jellyfish washed up along the beach.

Lee Bush, a dive instructor and boat captain at Reef Divers, was 40 feet underwater when he experienced his first earthquake in Cayman. He and three other divers were at Sandhole Reef when it struck.

Lee Bush, dive instructor at Reef Divers, describes experiencing the earthquake while diving during the earthquake. – Photo: Carolina Lopez

“It felt very much like a boat that was coming close to you because when you’re underwater you can hear boats and the noise was getting louder to the point where we almost thought the boat was on top of you,” he said. “But, obviously, it wasn’t, because there wasn’t a boat, but it was just very unnatural, very unnerving. At this point, you can feel your heart beating almost out of your chest.”

Lee Bush said the rumble he felt go through his body built up for about 25 seconds.

“It started off really slowly, it’s like a great crescendo. At that point, all the fish from the top of the reef just came straight off the wall and down, and just behind that, it looked like all the sand was coming off as well,” he said.

He added that the visibility in front of him went from about 100 feet to just three or four feet.

“It looked like fog rolling over mountains, the sand just came through everything and then it just literally covered everything,” he said. “In 10 years of diving, I’ve never experienced anything like that whatsoever. Never seen fish behaviour like that, never seen the way the sand moved like that, and never felt that real deep rumble before.”

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