SAN JUAN, PR – Pray for the people of Puerto Rico. The U.S. island territory is still recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria in July 2019. It is now suffering from a series of damaging earthquakes over the past month.
Only one death has been reported as of mid-afternoon on January 8, but the death toll could rise as rescue workers gain access to the southwest portion of the island. Businesses, churches, and homes lie in crumbled heaps. Utilities and other infrastructure have suffered significant damages. People are sleeping on mats and mattresses in the open air.
Some sources are concerned that the quakes have not ended. The frequency and magnitude of tremors have been increasing, particularly over the past month.
A 6.4 magnitude quake hit the island in the early morning hours recently in the wake of a 5.8 magnitude quake the previous morning. This quake is the strongest earthquake to hit Puerto Rico in more than 100 years,
About 100 earthquakes with a magnitude of 6.1 to 6.9 occur somewhere around the world each year. Compare this to 900,000 annually at a magnitude of 2.5 or less. These measurements do not take into consideration what happens when a country like Puerto Rico has not yet fully recovered from another recent natural disaster.
To put things into perspective, Puerto Rico has experienced nearly 4,300 earthquakes with a magnitude of 1.5 or higher in the past 365 days. (Any quake of 2.5 or less is recorded but not usually felt.) Based on that amount, Puerto Ricans might expect:
- 11.8 quakes per day
- 83 quakes per week
- 354 quakes per month.
- However, they have actually experienced
- 69 quakes in the past 24 hours
- 299 quakes in the past week
- 1,182 quakes in the past month.
According to Victor Huértano, with the Puerto Rico Seismic Network, police have reported widespread damage, but that it is too soon to determine the entire extent as access to and communication with the most affected areas continues to be challenging.
Ironically, about two dozen volunteers from the First Congregation Church of Hartland, Vermont, were in Puerto Rico helping with recovery efforts from the damages left by Hurricane Maria. The short-term missions team was awakened by the tremors shortly before 4:30 this morning.
A local pastor told reporters that the quake had destroyed the homes of at least six families from his congregation this morning.
The Christian Post published a lead photo of a colonial-era church in Guayanilla that had suffered significant damage. The church was built in 1840.
Pray for pastors, missionaries, NGOs, and government officials as they seek to bring relief to the Puerto Rican people.
Pray for the Puerto Rican people and their well-being.
Pray that some will decide to trust and follow Jesus Christ in the wake of these disasters.
To read more news on World Missions on Missions Box, go here.
- Christian Post, Missionaries, church groups in Puerto Rico on surviving earthquake, facing uncertainty
- Christian Post, At least 1 dead after M 6.4 earthquake rocks Puerto Rico triggering island-wide blackout
- CBS This Morning, Many residents afraid to go indoors after Puerto Rico’s strongest earthquake since 1918
- Earthquake Track, Recent Earthquakes Near Puerto Rico