CARACAS: A major earthquake of magnitude 7.3 struck the northern coast of Venezuela on Tuesday and shook buildings as far away as the capital, Caracas, the US Geological Survey said.
The quake was centered near the town of Carupano, an area of poor fishing communities and was felt as far away as neighboring Colombia to the east and nearby island nations like Trinidad and Tobago, and St. Lucia, to the west and north.
There were no immediate reports of injuries or damage, Venezuelan Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said in an Internet broadcast on Tuesday.
The US Pacific Tsunami Center said the quake could cause small tsunami waves along the coast near the epicenter, 23 miles (37 km) southwest of the town of Carupano.
USGS Geophysicist Jessica Turner said the quake’s depth, 76.5 miles (123.11 km) below the surface, would dampen some of the shaking but not enough to prevent damage.
“A 7.3 magnitude quake is going to cause some damage particularly as in this area structures are vulnerable. The Earth is able to absorb some of the energy, but a 7.3 quake produces a lot of energy,” she said by telephone.
Turner said the quake’s depth caused the quake to be felt as far away such as in Caracas, where witnesses said buildings were shaken. “I feel like I’m about to faint. I’m shaking. It was long,” said telemarketing worker Sheny Fuentes, 22, speaking outside her work building in eastern Caracas. “I’m relieved that it doesn’t seem like damage was that bad. We would have been even more affected (given Venezuela’s economic crisis) — there are already people eating from the garbage and buildings aren’t well made,” she told Reuters.