Second earthquake hits Puerto Rico, JetBlue and Frontier issuing flight waivers

Jan 11, 2020

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Editor’s note: The story has been updated with additional information. This post was originally published on Jan. 8. 2020.

Puerto Rico experienced another earthquake Saturday morning just days after experiencing one the most damaging quakes the island has seen. This time the quake measured in at a magnitude of 5.9, according to the US Geological Survey.

In response to this morning’s quake, JetBlue and Frontier have issued flight waivers for passengers traveling to/through/from select airports.

Earlier this week, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake shook the southern coast of Puerto Rico. The United States Geological Survey warned locals to prepare for aftershocks for up to three weeks within a 155-mile radius of the original quake zone.

The Caribbean island experienced widespread power outages after local power plants initiated an automatic shutdown to protect the system. Local utility officials returned power to 95 percent of its three million residents affected just before the second quake hit.

Puerto Rico’s governor, Wanda Vázquez Garced, declared a state of emergency on Jan. 7, although the island has not requested FEMA assistance as of the time of this post.

Tuesday morning’s tremors were the second major series of earthquakes to strike Puerto in as many days; a 5.8 magnitude earthquake struck the same region on Monday morning, less than 24 hours prior. The earthquakes struck on the opposite side of the island from the San Juan airport (SJU), which was running on generators after losing power.

Graphic courtesy of CNN.
Graphic courtesy of CNN.

While Monday’s earthquake did not cause any fatalities, the tremor was enough to bring down one of Puerto Rico’s most iconic tourist attractions: Punta Ventana, a famous rock formation on the southern coastline of the island near the city of Guayanilla. The stone arch, which formed a natural window, crumbled — as did a church in Guayanilla’s public plaza.

Popular tourist landmark Punta Ventana, is destroyed after a 5.8-magnitude earthquake in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico on January 6, 2020. - A 5.8-magnitude earthquake shook Puerto Rico on January 6, 2020, toppling some structures and causing power outages and small landslides but there were no reports of casualties, the US Geological Survey said. The quake, just off the US territory's southern Caribbean coastline, was felt throughout much of the island, including the capital San Juan. Some 250,000 customers were hit by electric power outages after the quake, which struck at 6:32 am local time (1032GMT). (Photo by Ricardo ARDUENGO / AFP) (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)
Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images

Glidden Lopez, a spokesperson for the Guayanilla municipality, told the Miami Herald that locals were taking the Punta Ventana loss very much to heart. One of the city’s slogans calls Guayanilla, “the new window on the Caribbean,” and Lopez said the name “was a reference to La Ventana.”

“People are very worried about losing this natural treasure.”

Lopez posted a Facebook tribute to Playa Ventana on Monday, saying, “Playa Ventana has collapsed. Today our icon is nothing but a memory,” as translated by the Miami Herald.

Colapso la Playa Ventana. Hoy nuestro icono queda en el recuerdo de todos.

Posted by Glid López on Monday, 6 January 2020

Is it still safe to travel to Puerto Rico?

As of now, all ports in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands remain open until further notice. The U.S. Coast Guard is monitoring earthquake and ongoing seismic activity off of Puerto Rico’s south and southwest coasts. Travel waivers have been issued by the following airlines (click for individual details):

Frontier

Passengers traveling to/through.from the following cities between Jan. 10-13 can make one itinerary change fee-free so long as travel takes place no later than Jan. 27.

  • San Juan (SJU)

JetBlue

Passengers traveling to/from the following cities between Jan. 11-13 can change or cancel flights fee-free so long as travel takes place no later than Jan. 13.

  • Aguadilla (BQN)
  • Ponce (PSE)
  • San Juan (SJU)

Tourists who are already on the island should consult the Department of Homeland Security’s guide to safely navigating earthquakes if you are in the affected zones. If you have trip protection or travel insurance, make sure to keep your receipts from current or planned travel; you’ll need them in order to file a claim.

And if you want to help out with local relief efforts on the ground, you can make a donation to the Red Cross.

Additional reporting by Liz Hund.

Featured image by Getty Images. 

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