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Eastern Cuba hit by a tornado and ‘anomalous seismic activity’


The eastern portion of Cuba was hit by a tornado and more than 20 earthquakes on Sunday afternoon and evening, May 17, 2020. No fatalities were reported, but there was extensive damage to properties.

The twister struck around 17:00 UTC (13:00 LT) in El Churrasco in the municipality of Maisi, province of Guantanamo. Press reports said there were no victims or fatalities from the storm, but it inflicted material damage to homes and agriculture.

According to local journalist Miguel Reyes, eight houses were partially hit, one house totally collapsed, two residential properties lost ceilings, and a carpentry workshop had considerable damage. Some crops were also affected.

Authorities have started recovery operations after the disaster, as well as an assessment of the economic losses.

Around 23:30 UTC (19:30 LT), the National Center for Seismological Research (CENAIS) registered 21 seismic events in the island's eastern region, with some of them perceptible by the population in what was classified as an "anomalous seismic activity."

The tremors were felt in the municipalities of Guama, Palma Soriano, Tercer Frente, Contramaestre and Santiago de Cuba, in the province of Santiago de Cuba, in the municipalities of Media Luna, Bayamo and Bartolomé Masó, in the province of Granma, and in the city of Guantanamo.

There were no injuries or fatalities reported. However, the quakes caused material damage.

The strongest quake had a magnitude of 4.6, which was recorded at 20:47 UTC (16:47 LT). It was located 20 km (12 miles) south-southwest of Chivirico, Santiago.

Two hours later, an M4.2 aftershock occurred. Both shakes were considered the seventh and eighth perceptible earthquakes this year.

The seismicity "corresponds to an activation of a segment of the Oriente fault to the south of the Guamá municipality, in the province of Santiago de Cuba," said CENAIS.

Seismologists and government authorities, as well as the Civil Defense, are monitoring and evaluating the anomalous seismic activity.

Featured image credit: Chely Tamayo


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