by Howard Campbell
KINGSTON, Jamaica – Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for calm after a 5.4 earthquake shook Jamaica Monday (October 30) morning, causing minor damage to buildings and roads.
No deaths or injuries were reported, but many persons were shaken by the strong tremor, the second to rattle the country in six months.
“The assessment so far is that damage has been minor but nevertheless we are taking all precautions. All the necessary protocols have been activated. At this point, I want to say to all Jamaicans, remain calm. It is likely that after the initial shock, there are usually aftershocks so you want to be in a safe place,” said Holness. “That safe place may be outside until you have conducted an assessment of the building and you have determined that it is safe to reenter the building.”
The earthquake, which took place at 10:57 Jamaica time, disrupted power supply and cell phone service across the island. Those have been restored.
In a statement, the Jamaica Public Service said it is still evaluating the extent of the damage to its power distribution network. The utilities provider reports that initial assessment revealed damage to several transmission and distribution lines which resulted in the “automatic shut-down of at least one substation and two generating plants, as part of the system’s built-in protection mechanism.”
Businesses and schools closed following the quake which disrupted a water main at the Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, and shook groceries from supermarket shelves.
Denzil Williams, a 74 year-old entrepreneur, was at a Kingston strip mall having lunch when the quake happened. He said there was widespread panic.
“A lotta screaming an’ running but I kept calm. I survived (hurricane) Gilbert, dengue, chick-v and Covid, so I jus’ handle it with a smile. Is Jah works,” Williams, a Rastafarian, stated.
Molly Francis, a 52 year-old small business owner, was at home in Kingston. A Christian, she believes the quake is God’s way of warning Jamaica.
“There’s lots of wickedness going on here, triple murders, children getting raped. It’s God talking to people an’ telling dem to change dem ways,” she said.
In April, a tremor measuring 4.6 was felt in sections of Jamaica which has twice suffered devastating earthquakes. The first was in 1692 and the other in 1907.