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Quake rocks Caribbean

world Updated: Nov 30, 2007 11:06 IST
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A powerful earthquake rocked the eastern Caribbean on Thursday damaging buildings and panicking residents, some of whom were hurt when they jumped from windows of buildings.

The magnitude-7.4 earthquake was centered 23 kms northwest of Martinique's coastline and lasted longer than 20 seconds. It collapsed the roofs of a bank and a store in the capital of this French island and left cracks in several other buildings.

"My house shook so hard I thought it was going to fall," said a caller to Radio Martinique who identified herself only as Fannie. "The door, the windows, everything shook."

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii said the quake was too deep to generate a destructive tsunami.

In Martinique, police and firefighters responded to hundreds of calls for help but only minor injuries were reported, said an official who declined to give his name in accordance with government policy. One British citizen died from heart failure during the quake, according to the island's civil security office.

More than 31,000 people on the island of 400,000 were without power yesterday evening, officials said. Many lingered outdoors for hours, fearing aftershocks.

The quake slightly damaged some homes and water pipes in St Lucia, St Vincent and other nearby islands. The quake struck at 12.30 IST and was felt as far away as Puerto Rico to the west, and Venezuela and Suriname to the south.

Experts said the depth of the quake, at 145 kms, spared the region severe destruction.