Puerto Rico's Popular Rock Formation Punta Ventana Collapses After 5.8 Quake
Punta Venta, a popular tourist rock formation in Puerto Rico, has collapsed after the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that shook the island on Monday dawn, according to an article by BBC.
U.S. Geological Service reported the quake struck at 6:32 a.m. (1032 GMT) just south of the San Juan Island at a relatively shallow depth of 10 kilometers (6 miles).
Although there were no tsunami alerts were issued and no casualties have been reported, buildings were severely damaged, landslide and widespread power occurred. Four hours later, the country also experienced a 5.1-magnitude aftershock.
Residents posted pictures of the rock formation losing its upper part.
Aside from that, images of homes upended from their foundations and cars crushed under buildings, also circulated in social media.
"Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon rests in everyone's memory," Glidden López, a press officer for Guayanilla council, wrote in a Facebook post.
Lopez previously posted that the rock formation has already had minor damages caused by tremors in recent days.
Nelson Torres Yordán, the mayor of Guayanilla, confirmed that Punta Ventana was in ruins.
Puerto Rico, a US territory of around 3.2 million people, has been rattled by a series of earthquakes since 28 December with a 4.7-magnitude quake followed by a 5.1-magnitude one that hit near the territory's south coast, according to a report by Latin Post. Dozens of panicked people rushed into the streets for safety while goods fell off supermarket shelves, cracks formed in homes, and a large rock fell and blocked a road. Since then, more than 1,100 earthquakes have recorded by the seismograph in that region, majority have not been felt, except for the 4.2-magnitude one that hit December 31 and the one on Thursday.
Puerto Rico is situated between the North America and Caribbean tectonic plates which makes it vulnerable to earthquakes, causing significant damage in the past.
Puerto Rico's Seismic Network director Víctor Huérfano said in an interview that throughout his 29-year service in the agency, it was the first time he observed this kind of activity. "There's no way to predict when it's going to end, or if it's going to lead to a major event."
He added that the series of seismic activities have been extremely superficial and have occurred along three faults in Puerto Rico's southwest region: Lajas Valley, Montalva Point and the Guayanilla Canyon.
"In general, the force behind all of this is the North American plate and the Caribbean plate squeezing Puerto Rico," he said.
So far, the largest and most damaging earthquakes to hit Puerto Rico was the 7.3-magnitude earthquake which struck near the island's northwest coast in October 1918, unleashing a tsunami and killing 116 people.
The island has not yet fully recovered from the effects of Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that devastated parts of the Caribbean in September 2017. In the U.S. territory alone, the hurricane has claimed 2,975 lives and caused $100bn (£75bn) of damage.
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