Buildings in Miami were evacuated after vibrations from a powerful earthquake that struck between Cuba and Jamaica Tuesday afternoon were felt throughout South Florida.
The 7.7 magnitude earthquake was reported about 77 miles north-northwest of Lucea, Jamaica, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Miami-Dade Police reported receiving phone calls of buildings shaking, and chopper footage showed multiple buildings being evacuated, including the Government Center on Northwest 1st Street.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to reports of tremors felt at high-rise structures on S. Dadeland Boulevard, officials said.
City of Miami Police said there were reports of vibrations in Downtown and Brickell, where some buildings were voluntarily evacuated, though there was no evacuation order. There were no injuries or damages reported, police said.
"I can't remember in my lifetime there ever being a report of an earthquake being felt in the City of Miami," Mayor Francis Suarez said.
Jorge Gomez said he and co-workers were on the 47th floor of the Wells Fargo building Downtown when he started feeling the building swaying.
"We were sitting down, we saw the blinds shaking, we felt sick to our stomachs. When I leaned up against the window, I felt my body moving or the window moving," Gomez said. "We were saying 'the building's shaking, the building's shaking.'"
Miami inspectors were responding to buildings in Downtown to check for structural damages, officials said.
Dr. Enrique Arango Arias, head of Cuba's National Seismological Service, told state media that there had been no serious damage or injuries reported.
Gov. Carlos Joaquín González of Mexico’s Quintana Roo, which is home to Cancun, Tulum and other popular beach resorts, said the earthquake was felt in multiple parts of the low-lying Caribbean state but there were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially warned that the quake could generate waves 1 to 3 feet above normal in Cuba, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Honduras, Mexico and Belize, but issued a later message saying the danger had passed.
The quake was felt strongly in Santiago, the largest city in eastern Cuba, said Belkis Guerrero, who works in a Roman Catholic cultural center in the center of Santiago
“We were all sitting and we felt the chairs move,” she said. “We heard the noise of everything moving around.”
She said there was no apparent damage in the heart of the colonial city.
"It felt very strong but it doesn't look like anything happened,'' she told The Associated Press.
It was also felt a little farther east at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on the southeastern coast of the island. There were no immediate reports of injuries or damages, said J. Overton, a spokesman for the installation, which has a total population of about 6,000 people.
The quake also hit the Cayman Islands, leaving cracked roads and what appeared to be sewage spilling from cracked mains. There were no immediate reports of deaths, injuries or more severe damage, said Kevin Morales, editor-in-chief of the Cayman Compass newspaper.
The islands experience so few earthquakes that newsroom staff were puzzled when it hit, he said.
“It was just like a big dump truck was rolling past,” Morales said. “Then it continued and got more intense.”
Dr. Stenette Davis, a psychiatrist at a Cayman Islands hospital, said she saw manhole covers blown off by the force of the quake, and sewage exploding into the street, but no more serious damage.
Claude Diedrick, 71, who owns a fencing business in Montego Bay, said he was sitting in his vehicle reading when the earth began to sway.
“It felt to me like I was on a bridge and like there were two or three heavy trucks and the bridge was rocking but there were no trucks,” he said.
He said he had seen no damage around his home in northern Jamaica.