On Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, at 17:47:45 (UTC) a massive 5.3 earthquake hit the Northern Mariana Islands (NMI). According to USGS, the epicenter was pinpointed at 89 miles east of Pagan, NMI, 207 miles NNE of Northern Islands Municipality – Mayor’s Office NMI, and 335 miles NNE of Yigo Village, Guam. Officials reportedly are scrambling to check on the inhabitants and to issue potential aftershock warnings.
Unfortunately, the local villagers of the islands are not unfamiliar with earthquakes of this magnitude. In fact, the seismic activity along the Philippines Sea Plate has produced earthquakes registering up to and over 8.0 on the Richter scale. Most recently, a quake with a magnitude of 7.6 shook the Philippines killing over 2000 people in 1990.
At the time of this report, officials have not released any details regarding injuries or damage. However, an earthquake of this magnitude is known to cause widespread injuries and fatalities in many cases. Toppled buildings and crumbling homes are also an expected outcome. Although not officially announced, preparations for a potential tsunami may have begun in the surrounding areas.
The Public Slate will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as more information becomes available.
By Jireh Gibson
USGS: M5.3 – 144km E of Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands
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