(AP) — A powerful earthquake shook Venezuela’s northeastern coast on Tuesday, spooking residents in the capital who evacuated buildings and briefly interrupting a pro-government rally in favor of a series of controversial economic reforms.
The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.3 and said it had a depth of 76 miles (123 kilometers). Its epicenter was 12 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela.
A witness in Cumana, one of the biggest cities near the epicenter, said there were initial reports of several injuries at a shopping center where an escalator fell, but that there were no other immediate signs of damage in the vicinity.
John Boquett, a firefighter captain in Caracas, said there were no initial reports of injuries or major damage in the capital.
The quake was felt as far away as Colombia’s capital of Bogota, and in Caracas office workers and residents fled from their buildings and homes.
The confusing moments after the quake were captured on state television as Diosdado Cabello, the head of the all-powerful constitutional assembly, was delivering a speech at a march.
“Quake!” people yelled as Cabello and others looked from side to side.
A similar-sized quake in the same area left dozens dead in 1997.
(CARIBBEAN NEWS SERVICE) – A 7.0 magnitude earthquake occurred off Venezuela on Tuesday evening and was felt as far as Eastern Caribbean.
The quake, which occurred around 5:31 p.m., was centered near the Venezuelan town of Guiria, was felt as far away as capital, Caracas, and far beyond.
Residents of neighbouring Guyana, as well as Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines reported feeling strong shaking.
Witnesses reported seeing and feeling their homes, and even some of the contents, shaking as the tremor continued for as long as 15 seconds.
The University of the West Indies’ Seismic Research Unit measured the earthquake 6.8 at a depth of 73 kilometres, but the magnitude was later upgraded to 7 by the United States Geological Survey.
The position of the earthquake in Venezuela was placed at 55 km east southeast of Carúpano, 95 km northeast of Maturín, and 131 km southeast of Porlamar.
Below is preliminary information from the authorities as well as tips on what to do during an earthquake:
UWI, SRC – Automatic Earthquake Location
DATE AND TIME:
2018-08-21 5:31 pm (Local Time)
2018-08-21 21:31 (UTC)
Depth: 73 km
55 km ESE of Carúpano, Venezuela
95 km NE of Maturín, Venezuela
131 km SE of Porlamar, Venezuela
WHAT TO DO IN AN EARTHQUAKE
If you are indoors during an earthquake
Ensure you do the following if you are indoors during an earthquake:
* DROP to the ground; take COVER by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and HOLD ON until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building.
* Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall, such as lighting fixtures or furniture.
* Stay in bed if you are there when the earthquake strikes. Hold on and protect your head with a pillow, unless you are under a heavy light fixture that could fall. In that case, move to the nearest safe place.
* Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you. Many inside doorways are lightly constructed and do not offer protection.
* Stay inside until the shaking stops and it is safe to go outside. Do not exit a building during the shaking. Research has shown that most injuries occur when people inside buildings attempt to move to a different location inside the building or try to leave.
* DO NOT use the elevators.
* Be aware that the electricity may go out or the sprinkler systems or fire alarms may turn on.
If you are outdoors during an earthquake
Ensure you do the following if you are outdoors during an earthquake:
* Stay there.
* Move away from buildings, streetlights, and utility wires.
* Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops. The greatest danger exists directly outside buildings, at exits and alongside exterior walls.
If you are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake
Ensure you do the following if you are in a moving vehicle during an earthquake:
* Stop as quickly as safety permits and stay in the vehicle. Avoid stopping near or under buildings, trees, overpasses, and utility wires.
* Proceed cautiously once the earthquake has stopped. Avoid roads, bridges, or ramps that might have been damaged by the earthquake.
If you are trapped under debris
Ensure you do the following if you are trapped under debris during or after an earthquake:
* Do not light a match.
* Do not move around or kick up dust.
* Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
* Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.