Strong earthquake off Barbados

Strong earthquake off Barbados

A strong earthquake has struck in the ocean north-east of Barbados and was widely felt throughout the Caribbean, but officials said there were no reports of damage or injuries.

Supermarkets and other businesses were evacuated and people moved away from the shore immediately after the quake hit. While earthquakes are common in the Caribbean, this was particularly strong and shallow.

The US Geological Survey said the magnitude-6.4 quake was centred 81 miles (132km) north-east of the island's capital, Bridgetown, at a shallow depth of about 3 miles (5km). It hit at 11.16am local time. (1516 GMT).

There were no reports of any injuries or damage, according to Kerry Hinds, the acting director of the Department of Emergency Services in Barbados. Nevertheless, she urged residents to be cautious, given the size of the quake.

"With earthquakes, there is the possibility of aftershocks so please be mindful of that," she said.

The USGS also reported an early-morning magnitude-5.3 quake in the same region, and it was followed by a magnitude-5.2 quake at 11.36am.

Many Bajans were rattled. In the Bagatelle Terrace area of Barbados, residents said they nervous about another quake.

"I am concerned about what this means because there were two tremors in such a short space of time," said Pedro Barker, who said he felt dizzy when the ground began to shake and the windows of his home rattled.

A Facebook page maintained by the University of the West Indies' Seismic Research Centre included comments which showed the earthquake was felt across much of the Caribbean, from nearby St Vincent and the Grenadines and to Venezuela, Guyana and Trinidad in the south.