Approximately two-thirds of Puerto Rico’s 1.5 million customers remained without power on Wednesday, January 8, due to a recent series of earthquakes. According to Puerto Rico’s Electric Power Authority (AEE), electrical service is not expected to be restored until Saturday, January 11, or Sunday, January 12, as repair operations are set to resume on Friday, January 10. The executive director of AEE announced on Wednesday that the earthquakes caused damage to some electrical facilities that need to be fixed before service can resume. Recent aftershocks have also reportedly interrupted tests at some plants before they can be brought back online. According to media reports, over 250,000 residents also remain without water as of January 8.
On Tuesday, January 7, Puerto Rico Governor Wanda Vázquez declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. Recovery efforts are ongoing across the island following significant infrastructural damage, with many people reportedly sleeping in their cars or outdoors due to fears of further aftershocks. Public school classes remain suspended, but electricity has been restored to most hospitals. At least 346 have been left homeless as a result of the tremors and one person was reportedly killed by a falling wall.
Power and commercial disruptions are expected in the coming hours and days. Further aftershocks are likely to continue over the near term.
Several aftershocks ranging in magnitudes of 2.0 to 6.5 struck off the southern coast of Puerto Rico following an initial 5.7-magnitude earthquake on Monday, January 6.
The US Geological Survey (USGS) recorded a 5.7-magnitude earthquake around 13 km (8 mi) south-southwest of Indios (Guayanilla) on January 6 at a depth of 10 km (6.2 mi). On Tuesday, the USGS recorded a 6.4-magnitude earthquake on the island's southern coast at a depth of 10 km (6.2 mi). This is the islands largest recorded earthquake since a 7.3-magnitude quake and accompanying tsunami struck Puerto Rico in 1918, killing 116 people.
Individuals in Puerto Rico are advised to monitor the situation, keep battery operated devices charged whenever possible, obey all instructions issued by the local authorities, and prepare for potential aftershocks.
In the event of aftershocks, individuals are advised to protect themselves as much as possible from falling debris if indoors (e.g. under a table), move away from the windows, and not attempt to leave a building unless there is an immediate danger. If outdoors, move away from tall buildings, utility wires, and streetlights.
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