Major Earthquake Hits Cuba and Jamaica, Causing Multiple Sinkholes to Open up in Cayman Islands

An earthquake has struck in the Caribbean Sea to the south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica, causing weak tremors in Florida and sinkholes in the Cayman Islands.

According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), an earthquake with a magnitude (M) of 7.7 was felt on January 28, 2020, at 2:10 p.m. EST. The epicenter was 125 kilometers north northwest of Lucea, Jamaica, with USGS reporting that the earthquake itself was felt in places such as Key West, Florida.

Earthquake Jamaica Cuba January 28 2020
The map from USGS shows that there was potential for the earthquake to be felt in countries in South America, with a potential tsunami risk for Miami, Florida. Open Street Maps / USGS

While damage has not been reported by USGS, freelance journalist Sotiri Dimpinodis shared videos of sinkholes appearing in the Cayman Islands. In a Twitter post, Dimpinodis said: "#Breaking Multiple sinkholes have formed at the Cayman Islands after the 7.7 magnitude of an earthquake, causing infrastructure damage on pipes and lines." He also showed a video of skyscrapers in Miami, Florida, being evacuated: "#Breaking: Skyscrapers in #Miami in the #US are being evacuated after the 7.7 as a precaution. #Cuba #Jamaica #Tsunami." Twitter account State of Territory News said that sinkholes have appeared at Cricket Square, off Elgin Ave, George Town, in the Cayman Islands.

The Cayman Islands were also hit with a 6.1 magnitude earthquake 57 kilometers southwest of the east end, with numerous quakes of magnitudes below 5 reported by USGS. The latest earthquake was 4.3 M at 12:16 a.m. ET.

#Breaking: Multiple sinkholes have formed at the Cayman islands after the 7.7 magnitude of a #earthquake, causing infrastructure damage on pipes and lines. #Cuba #Jamaica

— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) January 28, 2020

The National Weather Service (NWS) National Tsunami Warning Center has confirmed that the U.S. east coast and the Gulf of Mexico States were under no danger from tsunamis. According to its latest message, based on the earthquake information and historic tsunami records, the earthquake in the Caribbean was not expected to generate a tsunami.

However, the NWS does advise that government agencies responsible for any impacted coastal areas should monitor conditions at the coast to determine if and when it is safe to resume normal activities. Residents located near the impacted coastal areas should also stay alert.

#Breaking: Skyscrapers in #Miami in the #US are being evacuated after the 7.7 as a precaution. #Cuba #Jamaica #Tsunami

— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) January 28, 2020

Minor sea levels are expected to fluctuate up to 1 foot above and below the normal tide, according to NWS, which could continue for a couple of hours in some locations. Any tsunami will reach a maximum height of 0.4 feet, according to the message from the weather service. USGS has said that the 6.1 M earthquake has a low rating for "shaking related fatalities and economic losses" as well as casualties and damage.

Intensity Map usgs cuba region
The intensity map shows that weak tremors were felt up to Key West, Florida. USGS

According to USGS scientists, these earthquakes and the ones happening in southwestern Puerto Rico are unlikely to be related: "Typically, a M 6.4 event (the largest in the Puerto Rico sequence) will only influence activity within a few tens of kilometers or miles around itself. The distance between the earthquakes in southwestern Puerto Rico and today's M 7.7 is approximately 1,250 kilometers or nearly 800 miles."