MIAMI — A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook southwestern Puerto Rico before sunrise on Monday, sending boulders into roads, cracking house walls and frightening people out of their beds.
The quake struck at 6:32 a.m., according to the United States Geological Survey. It was the strongest yet to be felt in the coastal towns west of the city of Ponce that have been trembling for more than a week. The rash of smaller temblors began with three shakes of 4.7, 5.0 and 4.7 magnitude within three hours during the night of Dec. 28-29, all clustered in the same area, and have continued since then. No tsunami threat has been reported.
Victor Huérfano, head Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told a local news station, NotiCentro, that residents should expect more aftershocks in the wake of Monday’s stronger quake.
“This is going to go on,” Mr. Huérfano told the station, adding a warning of possible mudslides. He urged people to stay off the roads in the area to allow emergency personnel to assess the damage. Monday is Three Kings Day, a holiday in Puerto Rico that is also known as the Feast of the Epiphany.
Mayor Santos Seda of Guánica, a coastal town where some of the most serious damage was reported early on Monday, told NotiCentro that at least four houses had collapsed. His interview was cut short when his telephone call to the news station was dropped. The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority reported local outages as a result of the temblor.
Photos posted on social media showed severe cracks in the walls of older raised homes in the area, and partial collapses of some.