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Magnitude 6.5 earthquake hits off Puerto Rico: USGS

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A strong earthquake struck south of Puerto Rico early Tuesday followed by major aftershocks, the US Geological Survey said, the latest in a series of tremors that have shaken the island since December 28.

The shallow 6.4 magnitude quake struck five miles (eight kilometers) south of the community of Indios, the USGS said, revising down its initial reading of 6.6.

The quake struck just off the US territory's southern Caribbean coastline at 4:24 am local time (0824 GMT).

Just ten minutes later, a shallow 5.6 magnitude aftershock struck five miles off the southwest coast near Tallaboa, followed by a shallow 5.8 magnitude aftershock at 7:18 am (1118 GMT) one mile south of the community.

"The whole island is without power," the director of Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, Jose Ortiz, told local media.

Puerto Rico's governor Wanda Vazquez posted on Twitter that the government's security protocols had been activated.

She said government employees were not expected at work, adding: "We want everyone to be safe."

On social media, people wrote of being shaken awake by the force of the quake.

One woman on Twitter said she had been "wrenched from sleep," adding "everybody is awake & scared all over."

Dramatic images also shared on social media appeared to show widespread damage in the town of Guayanilla, home to around 20,000 people, as well as nearby Guanica.

The mayor of Guayanilla told local news channel NotiUno that the town's church had collapsed in the incident.

An alert issued by the Tsunami Warning Center immediately following the earthquake was later cancelled.

Tuesday's quake was the strongest of a series of tremors that have shaken the island since December 28, topping Monday's 5.8 quake.

That earthquake toppled houses and caused power outages, but there were no reports of casualties.

It did, however, destroy the popular tourist landmark Punta Ventana, a stone arch that crumbled on the island's southern coast.

Puerto Rico is no stranger to recent natural disaster. The island was devastated in 2017 by Hurricane Maria, a Category 4 storm that shattered the island's already shaky power grid, overwhelmed public services, left many residents without a roof over their heads, and killed several thousand people according to government estimates.


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