A 7.8-magnitude earthquake has just struck 27 miles (43 kilometers) off the coast of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea. The epicenter of the earthquake is also located near the coasts of Panama, Nicaragua, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Mexico, Costa Rica, Cuba, Belize, San Andreas, and Guatemala. According to the United States Geological Service (USGS), the Tuesday evening quake hit a relatively shallow part of the ocean, around 6.2 miles (or around 10 kilometers) deep.
Fortunately, the epicenter was not near any populated areas as it hit near the northern coast of Honduras, which mostly has nature reserves with very minimal residents. Due to the epicenter being in a shallow area, the effect of the quake has apparently been amplified. This has caused several government agencies to declare tsunami warnings in different areas. The United States Pacific Tsunami Warning Center announced that waves could hit several areas in the Caribbean and Central America. The National Weather Service in Puerto Rico also issued a similar warning, which urged people living near the coast to immediately vacate their homes and move to higher ground away from the water. Tsunamis general travel very fast at its deepest point underwater. It then slows down as it reaches the shoreline. However, the energy of the wave is still present and could devastate any structure near the coastline.
#BREAKING: 7.8 magnitude #earthquake shakes off the southern coast of Cuba in the Caribbean Sea, according to the @USGS. Hazardous #tsunami waves may be possible within 1000 km (621.371 miles) of the epicenter. pic.twitter.com/L67JjpdVXO
— AccuWeather (@breakingweather) January 10, 2018
People living near the beach, harbors, and coastal areas are apparently in immediate danger if a tsunami wave were to strike. President Juan Orlando Hernandez of Honduras announced on Twitter that they have already activated their country’s emergency system and are ready to respond to any situation. Puerto Rico has also announced that it is now actively monitoring the coastlines of its different municipalities located along the coastline.
Ante el movimiento telúrico registrado en nuestro país, hemos activado sistema de emergencias, por favor mantener la calma, reportar cualquier emergencia al @911Honduras y seguir todas las instrucciones de @COPECO_HONDURAS https://t.co/Rvo0SKAgUs
— Juan Orlando H. (@JuanOrlandoH) January 10, 2018
As of this writing, no casualties have been reported. Tsunami waves have yet to be reported as well, but the sea level has apparently risen by 1 to 3 feet above normal depth in certain areas. The Associated Press has reported that there is fortunately only minimal damage to homes near Colon and Atlantida near the coast of Olancho and Honduras. The same report also revealed that some residents in the Capital of Tegucigalpa didn’t even feel the quake when it happened.
Update: The USGS has downgraded the earthquake to a 7.6-magnitude. Tsunami warnings have also been lifted in some areas near the affected coastlines.