October 21, 2001

Report: Puerto Rico had record number of quakes in past year

                 SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico has experienced a
                 record-breaking 819 earthquakes in the past year, a newspaper reported

                 None of the earthquakes caused any injures or major damage, and many were too
                 minor to be felt.

                 The level reached during the 12-month period ending September 30 broke the
                 previous record of 809 for the same period in 1994, El Nuevo Dia newspaper
                 reported, citing information from the Puerto Rico Seismic Network. The network
                 was established in 1974.

                 That does not include activity in October, including two earthquakes last week that
                 were felt in the capital, San Juan, and the neighboring U.S. Virgin Islands. Neither
                 caused injuries or damage.

                 On Wednesday, a 5.2 magnitude quake centered north of the Virgin Islands was felt
                 at 5.0 magnitude in San Juan, about 100 miles (160 kilometers) west. On Tuesday,
                 a 4.9 magnitude temblor in the same area was felt in San Juan as a magnitude 4.0.
                 Those levels would feel comparable to a heavy truck rumbling by, analysts said.

                 The North American and Caribbean plates come together in the region, creating
                 conditions for earthquakes.

                 Analysts could not say if the increased seismic activity would lead to more or larger
                 earthquakes in the near future.

                 "An earthquake is going to occur here, but nobody can say when," the seismic
                 network's director, Christa von Hillebrandt, told the newspaper. "It could be right
                 now or within 50 years, but it's going to happen in our geographic location."

                 Puerto Rico's largest earthquak e was in 1918, a severe 7.3 magnitude quake that
                 killed 118 people, the newspaper said. The earthquake caused a tidal wave up to 20
                 feet (6 meters) high on the island's west coast.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.