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Massive 7.7 Magnitude earthquake hits between Cuba and Jamaica

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The U.S. Geological Survey says a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake has struck south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica

By MICHAEL WEISSENSTEIN Associated Press

What is an earthquake?

What is an earthquake?An earthquake is caused when two blocks of earth slip past each other on a fault plane, according to the US Geological Survey. John Lund/Getty

HAVANA — The U.S. Geological Survey says a powerful magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck south of Cuba and northwest of Jamaica on Tuesday.

It was centered 139 kilometers (86 miles) northwest of Montego Bay, Jamaica, and 140 kilometers (87 miles) west-southwest of Niquero, Cuba. It hit at 2:10 p.m. (1910 GMT) and the epicenter was a relatively shallow 10 kilometers (6 miles) beneath the surface.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The quake could be felt strongly in Santiago, the largest far-eastern Cuban city, said Belkis Guerrero, who works in a Catholic cultural center in the center of Santiago

“We were all sitting and we felt the chairs move,” she said. “We heard the noise of everything moving around.”

She said there was no apparent damage in the heart of the colonial city.

“It felt very strong but it doesn’t look like anything happened,” she told The Associated Press.

The quake also hit the Cayman Islands, leaving cracked roads and what appeared to be sewage spilling from cracked mains. There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or more severe damage, said Kevin Morales, editor-in-chief of the Cayman Compass newspaper.

The islands see so few earthquakes that newsroom staff were puzzled when it hit, he said.

“‘It was just like a big dump truck was rolling past,”‘ Morales said. “Then it continued and got more intense.”

The USGS initially reported the magnitude at 7.3.

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