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Caribbean quake sets off seismograph in California

  • Story Highlights
  • Strong earthquake hits between Caribbean islands of Martinique and Dominica
  • Some injuries but no deaths initially reported
  • Quake confused California seismograph, which gave false reading of a quake there
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(CNN) -- A magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck Thursday in the Caribbean just off the coast of Martinique, setting off shaking that triggered a reading of a strong earthquake in California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The earthquake occurred just after 3 p.m.(2 p.m. ET) the USGS said. Its epicenter was northwest of Le Morne-Rouge, Martinique.

There were some injuries, but no reports of deaths, Nadine Priam, chief editor of Radio Martinique, told CNN.

Roads and homes were damaged and one person was seriously injured after jumping out of a window according to Priam. Several schoolchildren were taken to the main hospital, she said. Video Watch quake rattle home in Dominica »

The quake was centered just offshore on the island's north side, between the island nations of Martinique and Dominica, Priam said. See where quake was centered »

The USGS reported its epicenter was about 90 miles below the Earth's surface, meaning shaking at the surface was somewhat muted. Earthquakes centered closer to the Earth's surface produce stronger shaking and generally cause more damage.

Despite the depth, the USGS Web site showed the quake was felt as far north as Road Town, Tortola, in the British Virgin Islands, about 350 miles from Martinique.

Its effects were felt even further away.


The USGS said shaking from the quake was picked up by a seismograph in California, which registered a magnitude 6.0 quake near Chico, California. But seismologists found no quake had occurred in California -- the instrument was reacting to reverberations from the Martinique quake.

An earthquake near Evanston, Wyoming, initially reported as a magnitude 4.6, was also removed from the USGS site. It was unclear whether that report was also due to shaking from the Windward Islands quake. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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