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6.4 earthquake hits Puerto Rico; island-wide power outages; US military deployed

Ponce, Puerto Rico. (Jose Oquendo, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
January 07, 2020

A deadly earthquake rippled along the southern coast of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico on Tuesday morning.

At least one 77-year-old man has been killed and numerous injuries have been reported, but the exact number of injured is not yet known, according to the Washington Post. The latest earthquake is the second in two days, with a 5.8 magnitude earthquake having hit the day before.

According to CNN, Puerto Rico Gov. Garced Wanda Vásquez signed a national emergency declaration, activating the National Guard to assist in aftermath.

Garced also told government employees to remain home amid concerns about aftershock throughout the day.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported the Tuesday morning earthquake measured at a 6.4 magnitude. A 6.0 aftershock has also been reported.

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Tsunami warning sirens were also set off for a brief period of time following the earthquake, though the warning was later canceled.

The USGS reported the latest quake is one in a series of smaller quakes over the past couple weeks, which started on Dec. 28 with a 4.7 magnitude earthquake.

Power outages have been reported along the island’s southern coast, including the large city of Ponce, where the first fatality was reported.

Gladyra Archilla, a spokesperson for the city of Ponce, said the 77-year-old man was killed when a wall in his home collapsed in on him. At the time of the Washington Post report, emergency personnel were trying to rescue one other person trapped under debris inside the same home where the man was killed.

The La Playa Ventana natural rock bridge formation, a popular tourist destination reportedly collapsed after the earthquakes.

The U.S. Coast Guard have responded to the latest quake, checking federally regulated maritime ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a press release. Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopters, launched from Air Station Borinquen, are also performing overflight assessments to determine if the quake has release pollutants into the water or damaged or obstructed navigable waterways.

At the time of its press release, the Coast Guard had not reported any active search and rescue missions as a result of the earthquakes.