The earthquake was reported at a depth of 10 kilometers, 117 kilometers northwest of Lucea, Jamaica. It was initially reported as a 7.3-magnitude but was quickly upgraded to a 7.7-magnitude.
A M7.7 has been reported northwest of Jamaica. It appears to be the transform fault boundary between the North American and Caribbean plates. pic.twitter.com/jpVq5fmtJg— Dr. Lucy Jones (@DrLucyJones) January 28, 2020
A tsunami warning was immediately issued by the International Tsunami Information Center for the surrounding areas of Jamaica, Cuba, Belize, Honduras, and the Cayman Islands with a potential height of 1 meter. The Cayman Islands Disaster Management Agency issued a warning for population in coastal and low-lying areas to "evacuate vertically" as a precaution.
Pacific Tsunami Warning Center says "Hazardous tsunami waves are possible" for some coasts of Jamaica, Cayman Islands & Cuba after 7.3 earthquake off coast pic.twitter.com/fbhS5kkNRB— Steve Lookner (@lookner) January 28, 2020
Residents of Jamaica's capital, Kingston, on the far side of the island reported on the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC) website they felt a strong quake that lasted between 30 and 40 seconds.
The quake was reportedly felt as far away as the Mexican coastline. One person who said they were from Othon Blanco in Quintana Roo state wrote: "As I was laying on my bed I started to see how all the plants started to move and the bed moved it just felt really strange because the whole hotel was moving just a little bit and I could see the water in the glass moving. But normally this is not something that happens here."
Videos from Jamaica reportedly show just how far the quake threw water from a nearby swimming pool, and another of a pool swaying in the quake:
Me acaban de enviar esté video ahora mismo del Terremoto de magnitud 7.3 al noroeste de Jamaica pic.twitter.com/JJCH9vWS3h— NOTICIA QUISQUEYA R.D (@JhonnyR97957588) January 28, 2020
Another video seems to show earth liquified by the quake, partially swallowing a car. on the nearby island of Grand Cayman.
Aftermath of earthquake in Grand Cayman.... pic.twitter.com/5cywNuDYlw— The Honey Badger ™️ (@The_Badger_jm) January 28, 2020
One Twitter user in Miami, Florida, reported light shaking, posting a video of swinging hanging lamps in their apartment. Some tall buildings in the city were also reportedly temporarily evacuated when the shaking was felt.
There was just a 7.3 magnitude earth quake in Jamaica.— Nunya Bizniz (@Pladizow) January 28, 2020
In my apt in Miami - this just happened.
Could feel the whole building swaying.
Flights into Montego Bay and Kingston airports were briefly placed in a holding pattern while the runways were inspected for damage, but arrivals have since resumed.
Update: Arrivals are resuming at the two Jamaica airports after flights were put on hold earlier for runway inspections following the M7.7 earthquake https://t.co/Wtycbjk8MJ— International Flight Network (@FlightIntl) January 28, 2020
A magnitude-6.1 aftershock was reported by the USGS close to the Cayman Islands a little more than two hours after the initial quake.
The earthquake is one of the strongest to have ever hit Jamaica, possibly the strongest ever. Past destructive quakes have included the deadly 1907 quake that hit Kingston, estimated at magnitude 6.5, and the catastrophic 1692 quake that submerged the old city of Kingston, which is judged to have been roughly a 7.5-magnitude quake.