An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.0 shook the Virgin Islands at 1:42 p.m. Thursday, the Puerto Rico Seismic Network indicated.
Loud and long was the assessment of several residents, who heard their dishes rattle and felt their floors shake.
“I froze. I didn’t know what to do,” said Simonia Athanase, who was standing in the hallway at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Cruz Bay.
She said that the earthquake seemed to get louder after quieting down for a few seconds.
Athanase also said that a parishioner was inside the church when the earthquake hit, but ran out.
Gisela Baez, a geologist at the Seismic Network, said the agency had no reports of damages, but 31 people in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands sent reports that they felt it. The most – eight – came from Tortola.
The earthquake was centered at 18.57 degrees north latitude and 64.54 degrees west longitude. This puts it 30.14 miles from St. Thomas, 59.43 Miles from St. Croix, 20.98 miles from St. John and 32.51 miles from Water Island.
The earthquake occurred 30 miles under the sea floor in an area called the Virgin Islands Platform.
There was no threat of a tsunami, the Seismic Network said.
Earthquakes are frequent occurrences across the region, but most go unnoticed because they’re smaller in magnitude. In addition to the 1:42 p.m. earthquake, the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency Thursday sent out two earlier alerts for the Virgin Islands.
VITEMA Director Elton Lewis issued a press release Thursday reminding the public that the Virgin Islands is located in a seismically active region and there is a potential for light to major earthquakes to occur at any time.
It’s important that individuals, families and businesses know how to respond, he said.
“If the ground begins to shake, the safest thing to do is drop, take cover under something sturdy and hold on until the shaking stops,” Lewis said. “If there isn’t something sturdy near you, cover your face and head with your arms and crouch in an inside corner of the building. It is best to remain inside until the shaking stops and then go outside if it is safe.”
He advised residents who are outdoors and near a buildings, streetlights or utility wires to move away as quickly as possible.
“Once in the open, stay there until the shaking stops,” he said.
To receive instant earthquake alerts and notifications, visit www.vitema.gov and click the VI Alert box.