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Caribbean: Earthquake Tremors

Categories: Caribbean, Barbados, Dominica, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Breaking News, Environment

Just a few hours ago, several Caribbean [1] islands experienced strong tremors from an earthquake that originated off the coast of Martinique [2] – and soon after regional bloggers caught their breath and got over the initial shock, they were on their computers blogging about the experience…

Steve's Dominica [3] was first on the ball – yesterday, his blog reported on “A Little Tremor”:

10:19am – a 4.8 ‘quake’ shook us. A little thing really, centered east of Martinique.

When the most recent tremors hit, however, his new post title quickly got upgraded to “HUGE Tremor” [4], followed by a report on the specifics of the ‘quake [5]:

We were just rocked by a substantial earthquake – magnitude 7.3, centered not far west of Martinique. Now that's what I call scary – about 2 minutes of sustained shaking. Cars rocked, motorbike shook, water tank shook and slopped water… and Puss fled.

Further down the Caribbean archipelago, some Barbados blogs were also writing about the experience. Barbados Underground [6] called the tremor “nerve wracking” and provides a time line [7] of what happened from beginning to end. Cheese-on-bread! [8] says that she “had to exit the building hastily”, but as soon as she was allowed back on her computer she provided a more detailed account [9]:

Traffic is gridlocked, especially near the City, and there were reports of roof tiles falling from the Royal Bank of Canada in Broad Street, damaging a car and blocking the street. Part of a house in the parish of St. George reportedly fell into a gully. People are in the streets and walking to open areas. The cellphone system is partially down so persons are having difficulty communicating. Some patients were also evacuated from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. In Guadeloupe there are reports that a 3 year old girl was killed and her sister injured.

Caribbean Lionesse [10] describes it as “possibly the strongest earthquake in Barbados’ living memory”, adding that “the whole island is still in a bit of a tizzy and on edge”:

I was sitting at my desk when I realised I felt dizzy or lightheaded – like my head was swimming. A few seconds later I heard my workmates shrieking and realised it was not just me. To be honest, I was in a panic. I just froze and clutched my desk, hoping it would pass but the ground just kept swaying and swaying and swaying. In my mind I was thinking “oh my god, we're still moving, why are we still moving?”

But after about forty-five minutes, she is able to post a “funny” earthquake update [11]:

Guardian General swooped in RIGHT AWAY and is sponsoring Starcom radio's emergency broadcast on the earthquake. So every 15 minutes or so between nervy reports from town and around the region, you hear ‘Guardian General – trust us to be there!’ Talk about marketing!

Notes From The Margin [12] gives an insightful account of how people reacted [13], more concerned for the safety of their loved ones than their own welfare:

We all bolted for the door this afternoon as we felt and saw the ground shake beneath our feet. Everyone is asking what’s going on and no one appears to know. Calls on cell phones are met with “Network Busy”, calls on landlines are met with busy tones. No one is hurt but everyone is calling their loved ones to see that they are okay. People are sounding strained on the phone not because they are scared for themselves but because they fear for those dear to them. “My husband is on a construction site”, “My parents are on a plane coming in, will the airport be okay?” “I can’t get through to my children’s school I wonder if they are okay?”

Amit at Pull! Push! [14] says:

Google is all over it…

He actually got on IM with me (I was entering my own post [15] about it at the time) and we traded stories:

Amit: hi
take it u heard/felt the quake?
me: oh yes!! how bad was it in your neck of the woods?
Amit: first time i felt a quake/shake.
like being on a boat in the water.
i was at home.
me: we had a pretty scary one last year, but this one was way longer.
Amit: i've got a full blog post up already. USGS says 7.3 around martinique.
me: incredible.
apparently the aftershocks are expected to be quite strong
Amit: good grief.
me: i know.
Amit: this is the first time in my entire life and for most bajans as well i bet, that i've been through this.

Living Guyana [16] reports feeling the effects of the tremor:

For a few seconds at approximately 3:04pm this afternoon a strong tremor rocked houses and other buildings on coastland Guyana. The tremor sent persons scattering out of their homes, offices and other buildings in Georgetown as people became scared and ran onto the streets.

West Indies Cricket Blog [17] also weighed in:

A massive earthquake (7.3 on Richter scale) rocked the Caribbean today, sending tremors as far as Guyana and Suriname in South America. The earthquake was centered 23 miles southeast of Roseau, the capital of Dominica, where the shaking lasted for about 20 seconds.

As the people of the Caribbean brace themselves for possible aftershocks, Marginal [13] says:

It’s a time to hug your family and count your blessings, it could have been much much worse.