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Earthquake felt by residents of the Florida Keys

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An earthquake struck Thursday afternoon off the coast of Cuba in the Straits of Florida, swaying medium-rise buildings in the Cuban capital, according to the Associated Press.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimated the quake had a preliminary magnitude of 5.0. An earthquake that resisters an 8 or higher on the Richter scale is considered devastating. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries.

The tremor occurred just before 4 p.m. It was centered about 112 miles east of Havana and 41 miles northeast of the tourist resort of Varadero.

Approximately 110 miles southeast of Key West, the earthquake was reportedly felt by some residents in the Florida Keys, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The state of Florida reported that there is no danger of a tsunami for state residents.

In Havana, the earthquake was felt by workers in two 6-floor buildings that were temporarily evacuated. It appeared to last about 30 seconds.

"Other than the blustery weather we have seen over the last few days, my wife and I felt nothing," vacationing Miami resident Albert Pino, told Examiner. "You could have fooled me that an earthquake occurred."

While hurricanes and an occasional tornado have made their way through the Sunshine State, the U.S. Geological Survey reports that Florida has – in fact - suffered some minor shocks in years past.

The earliest known earthquake in Florida hit near St. Augustine in January 1879. Reported tremors were strong enough to knock things from shelves and plaster from walls. Tremors could be felt as far away as Tampa and in Savannah, Georgia.

Just a year later in 1880, an earthquake in Cuba produced shockwaves that were felt as far away as Key West. While no one was hurt in Key West, several people were killed in Cuba.

The most recent earthquakes in Florida were in 1948 and 1952. An apparent earthquake in 1948 caused doors and windows to rattle on Captiva Island.

Quincy, a small town northwest of Tallahassee, also reported a slight tremor in 1952, but nothing serious was reported.

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Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.

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