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Earthquake Rocks St. Thomas and St. John

Dec. 11, 2004 – A strong earthquake shook the northern Virgin Islands at 3:45 p.m. Saturday. The Puerto Rico Seismic Network called it a 4.5 on the Richter Scale, but the National Earthquake Information Center in Golden, Colo. measured it at 5.2 on the Richter Scale. The Pacific Warning System put it at 5.7.
It is not unusual for different agencies to generate different data.
It was felt in St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola and in Puerto Rico. It does not appear that St. Croix residents felt it.
"Did you feel that? I think it was real close," St. John resident Dennis Demar said when he called for information.
He said he usually hears a rumble when an earthquake is about to hit, but this time, he heard nothing until the earth started to shake.
He said it lasted at least 40 seconds.
Demar said that he watched his 18-foot high stone wall shake as the earthquake seems to go on forever. He said the wall is 14 inches thick.
Glasses rattled, and pictures fell off shelves on the north side of St. Thomas.
Several residents reported leaving their houses when the strong quake went on for as long as it did.
Kim Collins and employee of the Sugar Mill hotel on Tortola's north shore said the quake was felt there in a big way.
Gisela Baes at the Puerto Rico Seismic Network said the earthquake was on the Virgin Islands platform. She said it was centered at 18.8 degrees latitude and 64.7 degrees longitude. This put it 27 miles north of Tortola. It was 14 miles under the earth's surface.
The National Earthquake Information Center's Web site reported it was 20 miles north of Road Town and 30 miles northeast of Charlotte Amalie. The enter said it was 26.3 miles under the earth's surface.
Baes said she received no reports of damage.
According to the University of Puerto Rico Seismic Center's Web site, this was the 17th earthquake in the region so far this month. Until Saturday's earthquake, they ranged in intensity from 1.3 to 3.7 on the Richter Scale.

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