The Caribbean island of Dominica, despite being hit by an earthquake measuring 6.0 on the Richter Scale at 7:45 AM local time yesterday, is pleased to report that there has been no loss of life or serious injuries as a result of the event and that the island has returned to business as usual.The earthquake was centered approximately 6 miles off the northeastern coast of the island and was presaged by a foreshock and followed by several smaller aftershocks throughout the day. The town of Portsmouth in the north and villages to the north and northeast of the island were most severely affected.
The Roman Catholic Church, the Methodist Church and the hospital in Portsmouth as well as the Roman Catholic Church in Vielle Case suffered substantial structural damage. A number of private homes, schools and public buildings in the two communities were also affected. The quake followed several days of heavy rainfall, which led to numerous landslides across the island that cut off access to the villages of Grand Fond, Laplaine, Delices, Riviere Cyrique in the east and Scott’s Head and Soufriere in the south.
However, at this time, access has been restored to all affected communities except Grand Fond. Clean-up efforts are well underway and 90% of roads have been cleared, with access to Grand Fond expected to be reestablished within a few days.
The National Emergency Response Planning Organization and heads of government departments met early this morning with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to provide an update on the damage caused by the quake. A state of emergency was NOT declared.
No hotels or tourist attractions have sustained any damage due to the event and are operating normally. Cruise ships were able to dock at the port yesterday, though the island received one cancellation today due to uncertainty about access to sites.
There was no damage to the cruise piers and ships are expected to continue to dock in accordance with their regular schedule from tomorrow. American Eagle cancelled air service to and from Dominica yesterday, but has returned to normal operations today, with an early morning flight to compensate for the interrupted schedules yesterday.
Other airlines serving Dominica include Caribbean Star Airlines and LIAT, neither of which had any interruption in service due to the event and continue to operate all regularly scheduled flights.
“I’m pleased to report that Dominica is up and running as usual,” said Minister of Tourism for Dominica, Charles Savarin. “Visitors are continuing to arrive on island and tourists are able to enjoy to the fullest the natural wonders, shopping, tours and all that we have to offer. The earthquake has not affected Dominica’s tourism product.”