Wed | Nov 21, 2018

Aftershock hits Venezuela following biggest quake since 1900

Published:Thursday | August 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP):

A strong aftershock jolted Venezuela's northeastern coast on Wednesday following the most powerful earthquake to hit the area in more than a century, though officials said neither caused major damage or deaths, apparently due to their depth.

The 7.3-magnitude quake on Tuesday was the largest to strike Venezuela since 1900, according to the US Geological Survey. But at a depth of some 76 miles (123 kilometres) beneath the earth's surface, it appeared to have caused only limited damage even near its epicentre a few miles off the Cariaco peninsula that stretches into the eastern Caribbean.

The 5.8-magnitude aftershock at 9:27 a.m. (1327 GMT) on Wednesday was also centred relatively deep, 61 miles (98 kilometres) below the surface. It was felt lightly in the capital.

"Shaking does die off at a distance," said seismologist Lucy Jones, a research associate with the California Institute of Technology, adding that the earthquake's considerable depth likely prevented a tragedy.

In Cumana, the biggest city near the quake's centre, supermarket shelves came crashing down on Tuesday.

In downtown Caracas, Venezuela's capital, concrete from the top floors of the unfinished Tower of David skyscraper fell to the sidewalk, forcing firefighters to close off traffic. A block away, children wearing surgical masks stretched their necks to peer at the 620-foot (190-metre) building after fleeing a building housing a foundation for children suffering from cancer.

"We felt something strong and they told everyone to run," said Marisela Lopez, who was at the foundation with her seven-year-old daughter when the quake struck.