A major tremor in the Caribbean Sea prompted authorities to evacuate people from several buildings across the U.S. eastern coast on Jan. 28.
Miami-Dade County confirmed it ordered civil servants to abandon their work stations after an earthquake hit the strait between Jamaica and Cuba.
“Personnel from the Stephen P. Clark Center (Government Center), Dade County Courthouse, Miami-Dade Children’s Courthouse, Overtown Child Support Division, and Lawson E. Thomas Courthouse Center evacuated the buildings as a precaution due to what has been reported as tremors caused by seismic activity related to an earthquake in the Caribbean Sea,” the county said in a statement.
Engineers have inspected the buildings to make sure they are safe and have “structural integrity.” The county revealed there was no imminent threat of a tidal wave.
“[As] per the National Tsunami Warning Center, there is no tsunami threat for the eastern United States,” the county said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez said there have been no reported deaths as a result of the disaster.
“At this time, we have no reports of loss of life in Jamaica or Cuba from the magnitude 7.7 earthquake, and I pray it stays that way,” he said in the statement. “It was a very strong quake with the effects being felt even in Miami.”
The city mayor also confirmed no injuries or hospitalizations as a result of the quake.
“No one has been reported hurt,” Mayor Francis Suarez said on a video he posted to Twitter. “There have been impacts felt in our buildings but no mandatory evacuations have occurred and there is no tsunami warning for the moment.”
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) measured the epicenter at about 2:10 p.m. local time and it was 6.2 miles underwater and 72 miles northwest of Lucea in Jamaica according to a statement.
“Despite the large size of the earthquake, the fact that it occurred offshore and away from high population areas lessened its societal impact,” USGS said. “USGS estimates moderate shaking occurred on parts of Cuba and Jamaica, the two islands closest to the epicenter, and light to weak shaking across other parts of these islands. Light shaking was also reported from some parts of the Florida mainland.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center had previously published an alert for tidal waves of up to 3.5 feet higher than normal in Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands according to the Daily Mail.
However, by 3:45 p.m. local time the center revised its alert to state the “tsunami threat has now largely passed.” The National Weather Service had no warnings, watches, or advisories in effect by that time.
Images obtained by the publication show large sinkholes have appeared on roads in the Cayman Islands and locals have complained about the pungent smell escaping sewage pipes that were damaged in the earthquake.
Further damage is expected from aftershocks, one of which the Daily Mail reported to measure 6.5 on the Richter scale.
“Aftershocks, which are already occurring, are normal and expected,” USGS said.