A 5.5-magnitude earthquake hit near southern Puerto Rico on Saturday, jolting many from their beds on an island where some people still remain in shelters from previous quakes earlier this year. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake hit just off the coast of Tallaboa, Peñuelas and was felt in nearby towns — including Guánica and Guayanilla, where hundreds of homes were destroyed by a quake in early January that killed one person and caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
Reports of damage were still trickling in early Saturday morning, with at least one second-story balcony crashing in the southern city of Ponce, spokeswoman Inés Rivera told The Associated Press. Meanwhile, cracks in homes were reported in Guayanilla.
“Everything shook really hard,” spokesman Danny Hernández said by phone.
Ponce Mayor María Meléndez tweeted images of the damages Saturday morning while also urging people to “avoid going to the city center until we make sure everyone is safe.”
Guánica Mayor Santos Seda told the AP that no major damage has been reported so far.
“Thank God everyone is OK,” he said. “The infrastructure is already weak.”
He said between five to 10 people remain in a shelter since the 6.4-magnitude quake that hit in January.
Rescue crews were deployed to affected areas, according to .Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez.
Vázquez said she’s been “in communication with several mayors” in order to “know first-hand what are the particular needs of each town.” Telemundo Puerto Rico reported that the governor will be visiting the affected areas soon.
The quake on Saturday knocked out power to people in the area. The Puerto Rico Power Authority tweeted that they’re “in the process to restore service” to affected grids.
Several aftershocks hit the area, including a 4.6-magnitude one.
The earthquake came as Puerto Ricans remain home under a nearly two-month lockdown to help curb coronavirus cases.
“If your structure is compromised, you should leave with your face mask and emergency backpack. Pay attention to any official information,” Vázquez told Telemundo in a statement.
Víctor Huérfano, director of Puerto Rico’s Seismic Network, told the AP that while it’s understandable many people are afraid and surprised by the most recent earthquake, it’s not unusual given the seismic activity that began in the region earlier this year.
“In the long run, it’s decreasing, but you can have peaks,” he said, adding that he expects strong aftershocks to continue.