Special Report

Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Puerto Rico rocked by 5.4 magnitude earthquake

Earthquake damage in Puerto. Photo by A 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit near southern Puerto Rico on Saturday.Mayita Melendez via Twitter and NBC News

A 5.4-magnitude earthquake struck near the southern coast of Puerto Rico this morning, knocking out power and causing structural damages in an area hit by a string of quakes earlier this year. 

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake hit at 7:13 a.m. local time at a depth of nine kilometers near the coast of Pueñuelas and Ponce, a region still recovering from previous quakes that destroyed hundreds of homes. 

Ponce Mayor María “Mayita” Meléndez said that the city’s center suffered structural damages and that authorities are surveying the area with historic buildings to assess the situation. 

“We will keep doing rounds all across the city to assess the structural damage in order to save lives in danger. We are going to keep everyone posted with updates on the current situation,” Meléndez tweeted. “Please, avoid going to the city center until we make sure everyone is safe.”

Meanwhile, Guánica Mayor Santos “Papichy” Seda said no major damage has been confirmed, but noted that this has been the strongest earthquake to hit the region since February, according to local media reports. 

The quake was felt in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, and several aftershocks rocked the island’s southern region, including a 4.9-magnitude one. 

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority said the tremor knocked its EcoElectrica power plant off-line, but the Guayabal and Guajataca dams seemed undamaged. 

The earthquake comes as Puerto Rico remains under a nearly two-month coronavirus lockdown. The island today reported its highest number of Covid-19 cases in 24 hours, with 182 new infections. So far, Puerto Rico’s Department of Health has confirmed 1,757 coronavirus cases and 95 deaths. 

Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced reminded citizens to take coronavirus-related precautions if they need to evacuate their homes due to the earthquake and aftershocks. 

“If your structure is compromised, you should leave with your face mask on and emergency backpack,” Vázquez Garced tweeted. “Pay attention to any official information.”

Vázquez Garced said rescue crews were deployed to affected areas and asked mayors to prepare reports on damages and to make sure their citizens are safe. 

“We continue communication with each mayor in the area to assist them. #PuertoRicoPrimero (Puerto Rico First in Spanish),” she tweeted. 

The U.S. territory has been hit by a series of earthquakes since late 2019. In January, a 6.4-magnitude quake rattled the southern region of Puerto Rico, demolishing hundreds of buildings and killing one person. The quake forced thousands of people to live in shelters and government-provided camps. Some still sleep outside as the area has not stopped shaking since.

Tweet with photos from Ponce Mayor


Tweet of damages in iconic Ponce museum


Tweet of damages in a church


Other Stories in Special Report: Shutdown: The Coronavirus

Life returns to the East Village

Quincy Walter May 5, 2021

Reopening for Ramadan

Hassan Abbas May 4, 2021

And the band played on

Xavier Bartaburu May 2, 2021

Queens residents mourn at Covid vigil

Annie Burky May 2, 2021

Floating for Free: COVID and the Staten Island Ferry

Trish Rooney May 2, 2021

COVID-19 has left many Black and Hispanic landlords in serious debt

Norah Hogan April 24, 2021

Village East movie theater reopens to the public

Inga Parkel April 13, 2021

Chinese adoptions halted by COVID

Inga Parkel March 24, 2021

Remote is the new workplace normal

Courtney Guarino March 24, 2021

One year of COVID-19 in New York City

Michelle Diaz March 16, 2021

COVID long haulers deal with lingering symptoms and doubt

Kaity Assaf March 5, 2021

Pandemic Weddings

Chuyan Jiang March 2, 2021

Pandemic fatigue 101

Chuyan Jiang February 28, 2021

Yankee Stadium becomes COVID-19 vaccine site for Bronx residents only

Michelle Diaz February 24, 2021

The queer community rallies behind their sacred spaces closed because of COVID-19

Inga Parkel February 23, 2021

Street vendors struggle as New Yorkers and tourists stay home

Norah Hogan February 13, 2021

Keeping the faith in COVID-19

Courtney Guarino February 3, 2021

Little Italy’s restaurants need indoor dining to survive pandemic

Michelle Diaz February 2, 2021

Stray pets find homes and love during pandemic

Inga Parkel February 1, 2021

No Actors, But the Show Goes On

James Pothen December 5, 2020

New York City, a place of refuge 

Edith Rousselot December 4, 2020

Commuting in a pandemic world

Michelle Diaz December 3, 2020

Battling food insecurities during a pandemic

Courtney Guarino December 3, 2020

Adaptation

Justin McGown December 3, 2020

Honk!: Cars earn a special spot in 2020

Luana Harumi December 3, 2020

Working out looks very different during a pandemic

Chuyan Jiang December 2, 2020

One kitchen’s transformation in the age of isolation

Isabel Beer December 2, 2020

Nursing homes are filled with sadness and loss during pandemic shut down

Inga Parkel December 1, 2020

The show goes on

Norah Hogan December 1, 2020

Loyal members help keep independent cinemas afloat

Courtney Guarino December 1, 2020

Musicians deal with the reality of no live shows as covid takes center stage

Paola Michelle Ortiz December 1, 2020

 Black Friday’s Aftermath

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi November 30, 2020

The Spirit of Little Haiti

Savannah Daniels October 14, 2020

Small business owners hope for future relief

Courtney Guarino October 2, 2020

Brooklyn Book Festival held virtually

Chuyan Jiang September 28, 2020

NYC Restaurant owners worry about maintaining business during winter 

Isabel Beer September 27, 2020

The pandemic is causing mental health struggles for many Latinos

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 24, 2020

Politically divided family can agree on one thing, rallies are bad during a pandemic

Michelle Diaz September 23, 2020

New Yorkers are vulnerable to mental issues due to pandemic

Sughnen Yongo-Okochi September 23, 2020

Healthcare professionals struggle with Trump’s decisions during pandemic

Tori Luecking September 23, 2020

Some Americans Say “Not So Fast” on Operation Warp Speed

James Pothen September 23, 2020

Trump voters unfazed by morality of Trump’s Covid response

Norah Hogan September 22, 2020

Trump rallies continue, despite the rising Covid-19 death toll

Isabel Beer September 22, 2020

Latinos weigh in on President Trump’s management of the pandemic

Paola Michelle Ortiz September 21, 2020

Fast track vaccine causes fear

Kaity Assaf September 21, 2020

It’s business as usual at McSorley’s Old Ale House

Tori Luecking September 20, 2020

Trump defiance to hold indoor rallies amidst COVID-19 sparks polarized responses 

Courtney Guarino September 20, 2020

NYC Cafes and restaurants try and survive the pandemic

Isabel Beer September 19, 2020

A typical afternoon at Shade Bar NYC

Kaity Assaf September 19, 2020

West Village staple, Caffe Reggio, remains open for outdoor dining in the wake of coronavirus restrictions 

Norah Hogan September 19, 2020