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7.3 Earthquake Hits Venezuela; Caracas Being Evacuated

CARACAS, Venezuela — A powerful earthquake shook Venezuela’s northeastern coast on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 at 5:32 pm local time (21:32 UTC), frightening residents in the capital city of Caracas, who evacuated buildings and briefly interrupting a pro-government rally.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the magnitude of the quake at 7.3 and said the epicenter was 20 kilometers 12 miles) northwest of Yaguaraparo, Venezuela, at a depth of 123 kilometers (76 miles).

A witness in Cumana, one of the biggest cities near the epicenter, said there were initial reports of several injuries at a shopping center where an escalator fell, but that there were no other immediate signs of damage in the vicinity.

John Boquett, a firefighter captain in Caracas, said there were no initial reports of injuries.

The quake was felt as far away as Colombia’s capital of Bogota.

Map of the August 21, 2018 Earthquake near the Venezuelan Coast. Courtesy USGS

In Caracas office workers and residents fled from their buildings and homes. The confusing moments after the quake were captured on state television as Diosdado Cabello, the head of the all-powerful constitutional assembly, was delivering a speech at a march.

“Quake!” people yelled as Cabello and others looked from side to side.

A similar-sized quake in the same area left dozens dead in 1997.

Article originally appeared on Today Venezuela and is republished here with permission.