Business came to s a screeching halt and schools dismissed, as the Cayman Islands experienced a magnitude 7.7 earthquake on 28th January, 2020.
Starting from small tremors, the vertigo inducing, earth-shaking quake swelled over several minutes, which many people said seemed like an eternity.
The International Tsunami Information Center issued a tsunami warning for Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Cuba, and the Cayman Islands following the massive earthquake.
Whilst Cayman Airways issued a statement canceling non-essential operations for the day.
“Following confirmation of a strong earthquake felt in the Cayman Islands today, Cayman Airways is advising the public that all non-essential services has been suspended for the day.
“Ticket offices on Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, as well as the Cayman Airways Reservation Center, will be closed until Wednesday, 29th, 2020 when regular operating hours are expected to resume. All flight operations will continue today and tomorrow as scheduled,” noted a press release from the National Carrier.
The communiqué went on to state that Cayman Airways is continuing to monitor the situation and will provide further details for the public if it becomes necessary.
The Caymanian Times spoke with members of the public about their experience and what they felt as the Island shook beneath them.
“I was at Cost-U-Less doing some shopping and I thought I was going to faint. I did not realize what was happening. I looked up and saw the lights up high in the store and they were all moving and it was almost like slow-motion. When I looked down someone shouted, ‘Get underneath something’, before we all ended up running outside,” noted shopper Cindy Oostvogels.
A member of the public who said she was driving during the quake noted that she pulled to the side of the road and jumped out of the car.
“We weren’t quite sure what to do it just seemed to go on forever. We kept jumping in the air to get rid of the sensation of the ground shaking,” noted Canadian Visitor Rose Simpson.
Across Grand Cayman there were reports of pools overflowing and sinkholes, as well as videos circulating on social media depicting goods falling from the shelves in grocery stores. However, there have been no serious injuries or deaths reported thus far.
Experts said the fact that no one was seriously harmed and that the damage was minimal after the quake, was testament to the high standards and stringent building codes in the Cayman Islands.
With reports of water not being available in some areas, a statement was issued by the Water Authority - Cayman stating, “…Messages circulating that the Authority is shutting off the water are not true. If customers are experiencing issues with their service, we encourage them to check their pipes for any leaks and report them by calling…”
Tuesday’s quake hit between Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Cuba at a depth of 10 km (6.2 miles), the US Geological Survey (USGS) said on Tuesday.
Buildings shook and tremors were felt across the Caribbean and offices were also temporarily evacuated in Miami and parts of Jamaica.