Melian Carlos Moreno (Progreso Semanal)
HAVANA TIMES — Residents of the city of Santiago de Cuba welcomed the dawn Sunday in the streets after an early morning with around a dozen earth tremors, one pegged at 5.0 on the Richter scale.
The city became a symphony of telephone rings in the early morning. The “word of mouth” news was activated simultaneously with the radio and the Civil Defense. The first earthquake came at just after 1:30 a.m.
The Civil Defense woke up journalists and radio announcers and three local stations (Mambi, Siboney and CMCK) began to report as well as the national station Radio Rebelde, which interrupted its regular broadcasts to issue a bulletin about the event.
Information on the seismic activity at the Earthquake Research Center of Santiago de Cuba alternated with songs of Buena Fe and Polo Montañez.
Some reporters that circulated by the New Van Van neighborhood announced rumors of cracks and fallen walls in the area. However, minutes later, at 5:44 am, the Civil Defense officially stated that so far there had been no building collapses.
Journalist Romero Chang used the social networks (Twitter and Facebook) during the early morning to calm thousands of alarmed Cubans abroad.
Chang complained that it was difficult to communicate with the Center for Earthquake Research due to the saturation of telephone lines and publicly called on the radio to give priority to journalists.
Given the reports coming from different neighborhoods, Lt. Col. Gustavo Alvarez Matos, head of the Civil Defense Authority in the territory, told the population by radio broadcast that they should not go down alone to the first floor of buildings in the housing projects of districts Jose Martí, July 26 and Abel Santamaria, and once down, should go out into open spaces. Following these guidelines, many citizens went to the Ferreiro Park carrying bags and suitcases.
Alvarez also advised people to close their gas tank valves, turn off the lights and unplug any appliances before leaving apartments and houses.
According to the Earthquake Research Center of Santiago de Cuba, the earthquakes are unpredictable; the largest magnitude struck at 3:30 am and was 5.0 on the Richter scale centered approximately 40 kilometers southwest of the city and five kilometers deep, reported a local radio station.
(*) In collaboration with István Ojeda Bello.