Casualties avoided after strong quake strikes Venezuela

The depth of the tremor is thought to have helped avoid ‘a tragedy’, experts said.


Residents sit outside their apartments in a street near the Tower of David (AP)
Residents sit outside their apartments in a street near the Tower of David (AP)

A powerful earthquake has shaken Venezuela’s north-eastern coast and parts of the Caribbean, knocking out power, breaking windows and toppling store shelves.

Little damage was reported due to the depth of the quake, and there are not thought to have been any deaths as a result.

The magnitude 7.3 quake was the largest to strike Venezuela since 1900, according to the US Geological Survey.

At a depth of some 76 miles beneath the Earth’s surface, it appears to have caused only limited damage even near its epicentre a few miles off the Cariaco peninsula that stretches into the eastern Caribbean.

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An abandoned, unfinished skyscraper known as The Tower of David shows an inclination on the top floors after the earthquake (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Seismologist Lucy Jones, a research associate with the California Institute of Technology, said: “Shaking does die off at a distance.”

She added 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.

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

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Civil Protection workers patrol near the Tower of David skyscraper (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Construction of the Tower of David began in 1990 as a symbol to the OPEC nation’s ambitions of becoming a regional finance centre. But it was abandoned after a banking crisis and in the past two decades of socialist rule has become a symbol of urban blight, and has been occupied by squatters until 2015.

Power cuts were reported across nearby Trinidad, where people ran into the street and gasped as large glass panes at one supermarket shattered and falling concrete smashed several cars.

The quake was felt as far away as Colombia’s capital of Bogota, where authorities briefly closed the international airport to inspect the runway for damage.

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The earthquake also was felt in Guyana, Barbados and Grenada.

Press Association

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