Earthquakes devastate Puerto Rico


Associated Press

Sofia Guerra, Staff Translator

This story was originally published in Spanish in the fourth issue of The Bear Truth (March 10, 2020).

Why are so many Earthquakes happening in Puerto Rico currently? Puerto Rico happens to sit on the edge of two different platonic plates, the Caribbean plate and the part that is colliding with the North American plate causing the island to be vulnerable to many earthquakes. There have been 1,745 earthquakes in the past 30 days, of which over 500 happened in the third week of January. Scientists call what is happening an Earthquake swarm. “A sequence of seismic events occurring in a local area within a relatively short period,” according to seismologists. This can even elevate to a level 8 earthquake which can lead to a tsunami. 

After the 6.4 earthquake on January 7, immediately the island lost electric power. In some areas it took over a week to restore power. Damage to homes was extensive and, by January 14, more than 8,000 people were homeless and camping outdoors in various types of shelters. Ponce, Guánica, Barina, Guayanilla, and Yauco are the cities that are most affected by the earthquakes and the southern region of the island. On January 6, a magnitude 5.8 quake also struck in the same region. Beside Puerto Rico has been impacted, but several other islands have been affected as well, including: the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Saint Martin, Saint Maarten, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, Saint-Kitts, U.S. Virgin Islands, Caribbean Netherlands, Saint Barthélemy, Antigua and Barbuda, and Anguilla.

These major disasters damaged Puerto Rico’s cultural heritage too. Numerous historic landmarks – including a 2,000-year-old archaeological site containing priceless evidence of the Indigenas have been destroyed. Punta ventana, a natural window shaped rock near the beach, was also destroyed by the 6. earthquake.