SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — One of the strongest earthquakes in a generation rattled Puerto Rico before dawn Tuesday, the second one in as many days. At least one person is dead, and the governor has declared a state of emergency.
- 6.4 earthquake rattles Puerto Rico in early morning hours
- Temblor is 2nd quake to hit US territory in as many days
- At least 1 person is dead; roads near Ponce left impassable
- JUMP TO: Airlines issuing travel waivers for Puerto Rico ▼
Tuesday's quake struck at 4:24 a.m. local time, or 3:24 a.m. ET. The NOAA Tsunami Warning System said there was no tsunami warning.
At least eight people were injured in the city of Ponce, near the epicenter of the quake, Mayor Mayita Meléndez told WAPA television. Roads in Tallaboa, west of Ponce, were impassable, and some buildings severely damaged.
Puerto Rico's power authority said on Twitter that one of the country's main power plants, which sits near the epicenter, had been damaged. Officials said they expected to restore power to the island later Tuesday.
PREPA ALERT: José Ortiz, CEO of PREPA, informs that damages have been reported in Central Costa Sur and we are evaluating substations throughout the island. If no other mayor issues occur with our system we should reenergize early during the day. CC7 pic.twitter.com/5K8ZqkC7zV— Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (@AEEONLINE) January 7, 2020
The U.S. Geological Survey measured the quake at magnitude 6.4, with more than two dozen aftershocks ranging from 3.8 to 5.8.
In a Facebook Messenger interview, Felix J. Quirindongo Muniz of Altamonte Springs shared pictures with Spectrum News 13 that his family and friends took of the destruction in the U.S. territory. He also shared his worry for his family who live in Puerto Rico.
"It's overwhelming, really. My dad is bedridden, and we're going to try to move here. It's hard. There's no power in the whole island and no news from Vieques and Culebra," Muniz said.
He said his parents and cousins are moving to another house because their home was damaged in Tuesday's quake.
"Cousins moving together also, just to be together and help each other. Some cracks on the walls and ceilings. They don't want to risk it ...," he shared.
Camille Feliciano, 73, lives in the western region of Puerto Rico. She said she thought she was safe from the earthquake but woke to her home shaking.
"I was sleeping in the second floor, so I ran down then went outside, and then the lights went out," Feliciano said.
Feliciano said she is afraid a bigger earthquake may hit her island.
“You just feel very anxious, because you don’t know if it’s going to continue or if it’s going to get worse," she said.
Tampa resident Vilmari Nazario has family in Ponce, near the epicenter.
She says they are nervous and scared, but otherwise OK.
It stirred up feelings reminiscent of those moments following Hurricane Maria.
“Yeah, I feel a lot of fear, anxiety because I have family and friends there and it’s hard being so far away and not being with them,” she said.
At least one person was reported dead. Teacher Rey González told the Associated Press that his uncle was killed when a wall collapsed on him at the home they shared. He said 73-year-old Nelson Martínez was disabled and that he and his father cared for him.
Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has signed a state of emergency declaration and activated the island's National Guard. She tweeted in Spanish that the government is ready to assist.
Espero que todos estén bien. Estamos recibiendo la información de @NMEADpr y @DSPnoticias. Todo el componente gubernamental está activado y en ejecución. A nuestro pueblo calma y les exhortamos a que permanezcan seguros.— Wanda Vázquez Garced (@wandavazquezg) January 7, 2020
Both Florida U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, along with Puerto Rico Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón, sent a letter to President Donald Trump urging him to approve the governor's disaster declaration request.
On Monday, a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the island, with its epicenter near Indios. It led to widespread power outages and small landslides, with cars crushed and boulders blocking highways.
For those in Florida with family back on the island, getting in touch with loved ones was critical after seeing images of the aftermath.
"It's very sad for all the families that are suffering from this catastrophe," said Aldofina Ortiz who lives in Orlando but has family living in Puerto Rico.
According to the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, one of the strongest earthquakes to hit Puerto Rico struck in 1918. That quake was 7.3 and caused severe damage to bridges and homes and triggered landslides and a tsunami. The 1918 quake killed 116 people.
Airlines Issue Waivers for Travel to Puerto Rico
In the wake of the earthquakes, airlines are waiving change and cancellation fees for travelers to and from the island this week.
Follow the links below to see the details about airline fee waivers from the following companies:
Most passengers Spectrum News spoke to at Orlando International Airport coming from San Juan, Puerto Rico, said they were concerned to leave their family behind, given the circumstances.
Irving Ocasio from Fajardo said the island needs all the help it can get.
"The island is not 100 percent what it was. After Hurricane Maria the electricity comes and goes. Right after these trembles the island went pitch black... The electrical system in Puerto Rico needs help," he described.
Help from the Mainland
The Hispanic Federation is teaming up with other organizations to help the people on the island.
The organization has already distributed 30,000 solar lamps to those in Puerto Rico who don’t have power.
"A light makes a difference. It’s a hope in the midst of the dark, so we know its essential for our families there," said Yanidsi Velez, Florida Director of the Hispanic Federation.
Velez said the team is still in the early stages of planning, but the group is getting ready to help the people living in Puerto Rico like they did for Hurricane Maria.
If you like to help the Hispanic Federation, head to the group's website.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.