Caribbean Quake Shakes Domincian Republic

A 5.3 magnitude earthquake shook the Dominican Republic this morning just days after experts warned that the country is at risk of experiencing a quake similar to the one that hit neighbouring Haiti last year.

There were no immediate reports of major damage or injury, however.

The quake, which hit around 9:37 am about 77 miles east north east of La Romana, Dominican Republic at a depth of 0.6 km (0.4 miles), was measured at 5.3 magnitude by the Santo Domingo State University’s UASD Seismology Institute. The US Geological Survey initially put it at 5.0.

The Associated Press last week reported that Columbia University researchers had warned that the Dominican Republic could be hit by an earthquake similar to the 7.0 magnitude tremor that devastated Haiti in January 2010.

“The next event of this type will probably occur on the other side of the island (Hispaniola),” said the university’s Urban Design Lab director Richard Plunz, who led the investigation. “It could generate very serious damages in the long term.”

Plunz and the rest of the researchers are to meet with President Leonel Fernandez at the end of next month in Santo Domingo to apprise him of their findings.

Worries of earthquakes in the region and calls for the Caribbean and Latin America to get themselves earthquake ready have been heightened since last Friday’s 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

“Tragedies of this magnitude, triggering tsunami warnings across the entire Pacific and numerous other countries, underscore the importance of like-minded states collaborating in the vital area of disaster mitigation and preparedness,” acting CARICOM Secretary-General Ambassador Lolita Applewhaite said after the disaster that killed thousands and damaged a nuclear plant.


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