WHILE there were no reports of fatalities or major injuries in Venezuela, Tuesday’s 7.3 magnitude earthquake was regarded as the largest quake to strike the South American nation since 1900.
A report in USA Today said the powerful earthquake shook Venezuela’s northeastern coast, forcing residents in Caracas to evacuate buildings and interrupting a pro-government rally in support of controversial economic reforms.
In Cumana, the biggest city near the quake’s centre, supermarket shelves came crashing down.
At a shopping centre, a woman caught in the panic of people rushing out of the building fell on an escalator and injured herself. In downtown Caracas, 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 neck toward the 620-foot building after having fled a nearby foundation for poor 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.
Another media report said experts have long warned that Venezuela’s cash-strapped government is ill-prepared to deal with a major natural disaster. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said that disaster relief teams had been activated but so far there were no reports of fatalities. “We ask for the greatest patience and tranquility from the Venezuelan people,” he said in a televised address. “These situations require prudence.”
Efforts to contact Venezuelan Ambassador to TT, Coromoto Godoy Calderon, for comment were unsuccessful.
The quake was felt in TT at a magnitude of 6.9. Other parts of the southern Caribbean were also affected by the earthquake.