Earthquake 5.3 rattled the entire Dominican Republic (UPDATE)
DominicanToday.com - A moderate tremor of 5.3 magnitude has rattled the entire Dominican Republic, at around 5:32am local time, whose epicenter was located 17 kilometers south-southeast of the city of San Jose de Ocoa, at a depth of 10 kilometers.
The tremor shook doors and windows for around 30 seconds, startling people to scurry out of bed.
Emergency Operations Center director Juan M. Mendez said there are no reports of damages or injuries thus far, although cracks in structures have been reported in the country's south region.
Jose Mateo, on the phone from the town of Fundacion, in the southern city of Bani, said his house under construction “has some cracks,” with no major damages.
The geologist Osiris de Leon said since the tremor’s epicenter was inland, no tsunami warnings were issued. Interviewed by the program El Dia on Channel 11, the expert said the tremor was also felt in Haiti, where a 7.5 magnitude earthquake devastated the capital, Port-au-Prince on January 12, 2010.
Eugenio Polanco, director of the Santo Domingo State University UASD Institute of Seismology stressed that there’s no possibility of a tsunami, as the social media report.
He said two faults converge in the area of the quake, and noted similar tremors in 1980 and 1990. “There have been several tiny replicas from the tremor, but this is a normal result.”
THE REPORT FROM THE US GEODETIC SURVEY:
Event has been reviewed by a seismologist. Magnitude 5.3 Date-Time Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 09:35:29 UTC Thursday, January 05, 2012 at 05:35:29 AM at epicenter.
Time of Earthquake in other Time Zones Location 18.422°N, 70.419°W Depth 10 km (6.2 miles) Region DOMINICAN REPUBLIC.
Distances 55 km (34 miles) W of SANTO DOMINGO, 75 km (46 miles) ENE of Barahona.
Quake unleashes rockslides, cuts off southern town
The Emergency Operations Center (COE) reported that the tremor felt 5:35am Thursday caused cracks in at least eight constructions in the southern mountain city of San José de Ocoa.
COE director Juan Manuel Méndez said they’ve received information that traffic on the road to and from the community of El Pinar, Azua province, has been cut off on rockslides.
The official also reported rockslides in the Southern Highway in the span near the community El Numero, adding that emergency crews were sent to work to restore traffic on those roads quickly.
Local seismic fault unleashed the quake, expert says
The seismic fault which crosses southern San José de Ocoa province unleashed the 5.3 magnitude quake felt in nearly the entire country at 5:35am yesterday, affirmed Santo Domingo State University (UASD) Seismology Institute (ISU) director Eugenio Polanco.
He said the quake’s epicenter was southeast of Ocoa, at latitude 18.3 and longitude 70.4, 18 kilometers below the Earth’s surface.
The tremor generated 12 aftershocks, the last 9:25am, of magnitude 3.3, the expert said.
Polanco said the Ocoa fault is very active and has caused tremors as strong as 6.5, occurred in 1962.
He said the superficial earthquakes range as deep as 70 kilometers, though in the case of geologic faults rarely exceed 25 kilometers.
The seismologist added the earthquakes are natural movements, for which people should have an emergency plan that begins at home, recognizing the risks and designing escape routes.
Strong quake would collapse most towers, top engineer says
Most of the towers and other constructions in the capital and other cities wouldn’t withstand a strong earthquake, because they were built without regard for the seismic resistant code in effect, which the Public Works Ministry must comply with.
The affirmation is by Dominican Engineers, Architects and Surveyors Guild (CODIA) president Domingo Tavera, in an interview for newspaper Hoy, in the cathedral Primada de America.
He said however that the towers currently being built in Santo Domingo do abide by the anti-earthquake code. “It’s necessary to adapt the majority of the other towers to the new anti-earthquake code.”
Tavera said many towers have “pathologies which in other countries have made them collapse from earthquakes of a certain magnitude, like the so-called smooth floors, which is when the first level such as parking lot is used based only on columns. “
Among other “pathologies” the expert cited the short columns and asymmetric buildings, which would be affected by a magnitude 7 quake or higher. “Those pathologies have collapsed in other countries such as in Chile, Turkey and Mexico.”
The Codia president added that the implementation of the new anti-earthquake code increases the cost of construction of towers and other high buildings. ”The new anti-earthquake code is being applied. It’s up to the Public Works Ministry and the city councils to guard for its compliance."
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