Earthquake collapses popular rock in Puerto Rico

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A popular tourist rock formation in Puerto Rico has collapsed after a strong earthquake shook the island, damaging homes and causing power cuts.

The stone arch, known as Punta Ventana, was destroyed on Monday, when the earthquake hit.

The 5.8-magnitude quake struck at a depth of 6km (3.7 miles), off the Caribbean island’s southern coast.

No tsunami alerts were issued and no casualties have been reported.

There were, however, reports of severe damage to buildings, landslides and widespread power cuts after the earthquake, which struck at 06:32 local time (10:32 GMT).

Pictures of the aftermath, showing homes upended from their foundations and cars crushed under buildings, were posted to social media.

Among them was a picture of Punta Ventana after it had collapsed into the ocean, near the southern town of Guayanilla.

The Meteorological Laboratory of the University of Puerto Rico posted the picture to its Twitter account.

A local told the Miami Herald that Punta Ventana was ”one of the biggest tourism draws of Guayanilla”.

“Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon rests in everyone’s memory,” Glidden Lopez, a press officer for Guayanilla council, wrote in a Facebook post.

In an earlier post, Mr Lopez said the rock formation had been damaged by previous tremors in recent days.

The mayor of Guayanilla, Nelson Torres Yordán, confirmed that Punta Ventana was in ruins.

Vulnerable to earthquake

Puerto Rico, a US territory of around 3.2 million people, has been rattled by a series of earthquakes since December 28. Monday’s earthquake was the strongest yet, the US Geological Survey said

Several aftershocks, including a 5.1-magnitude quake more than four hours later, shook parts of the island.

Puerto Rico, situated between the North America and Caribbean tectonic plates, is vulnerable to earthquakes, which have caused significant damage in the past.

The island is still recovering from Hurricane Maria, a Category storm that devastated parts of the Caribbean in September 2017. In Puerto Rico alone, the hurricane is estimated to have killed 2,975 people and caused $100bn (£75bn) of damage.

 

Nneka Ukachukwu