4.5 quake hits Puerto Rico amid rare seismic activity

SAN JUAN (AP) — A 4.5-magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico on Thursday in the latest of a rare string of quakes that has frightened many in the United States (US) territory.

The most recent quake occurred 12 kilometres south of Guayanilla at a shallow depth of seven kilometres and was felt in the capital of San Juan and elsewhere in Puerto Rico, according to the US Geological Survey. No immediate damage was reported.

“We haven’t stopped shaking,” said Emergency Management Director for the southern coastal town of Ponce Ángel Vázquez. “It’s the first time something like this happens.”

The flurry of quakes began the night of December 28, 2019 with a 4.7-magnitude quake followed by a 5.1-magnitude one that hit near Puerto Rico’s south coast and sent dozens of panicked people into the streets. No injuries were reported.

Since then, more than 1,100 earthquakes have occurred in that region. The majority have not been felt, except for the 4.2-magnitude one that hit December 31 and the one on Thursday.

“I’ve spent 29 years with Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, and it’s the first time I observe this kind of activity,” Director Víctor Huérfano told The Associated Press.

“There’s no way to predict when it’s going to end, or if it’s going to lead to a major event.”