A 6.4 Magnitude earthquake hit Puerto Rico this morning just a day after a 5.8 quake destroyed famous tourist landmarks on the island, including a colonial church constructed in 1841.
Punta Ventana, which translates to “Window Point,” a stone arch shaped like a round window located in Guayanilla along the southern coast, collapsed after the quake on Monday. The rock formation was one of the island’s most iconic treasures and a major tourist attraction.
According to NBC News, today’s quake is already being estimated as the strongest and most damaging of a series of quakes that have hit the island since December 28.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has declared a state of emergency, activating the Puerto Rico National Guard, as reports of several injuries and at least one person dead.
Gov. Vázquez reported that there had been at least 35 aftershocks since the initial earthquake. The largest in a series of quakes hit at 4:24 a.m. Federal agencies monitoring the seismic activity predict that the tremors and quakes could continue for the next few days.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Gov. Vázquez described the scope of the catastrophe.
“We’ve never been exposed to this kind of emergency in 102 years,” she said in Spanish.
A FEMA spokesperson told NBC News in a statement that it had received Vázquez’s request for a federal emergency declaration, but that the request is still “under consideration.”
FEMA personnel are already on the island and are said to be “working closely with Puerto Rico Emergency Management Bureau.” The agency also “deployed two Incident Management Assistance Teams to the island” and activated certain regional response teams to help.
Government offices and schools were closed, and some hospitals were evacuated in the southwestern region. Terrified residents in the area don’t want to return to their homes for fear that another quake will strike and wipe out what’s currently left standing. About 300,000 customers who get their water supply through electrical water pumps in Puerto Rico don’t have access to water in their homes, and power is slowly being restored.
“Every single one of you know how your homes were built. Don’t put yourselves at risk. Your homes can be replaced, but we can’t replace your or your children’s lives,” Gov. Vázquez warned.
The White House said in a statement that Trump has been briefed on the situation and “will continue to monitor the effects and coordinate with Puerto Rico officials.” But Gov. Vázquez said that as of 11:00 am; she had not received any communications from Trump.