Puerto Rico (The United States of America)

Puerto Rico Earthquake Situation Report #1 - January 8, 2020

Situation Report
Originally published



  • FEMA approved Puerto Rico’s request for a Disaster Declaration, opening the door for increased federal interagency support. The National Guard has also been activated.

  • One hospital has been evacuated.

  • One fatality has been reported, in Ponce due to collapsed structure; more than 200,000 people on the south side of the island reportedly require assistance.

  • Two shelters are currently open, with 43 occupants.

  • Multiple roadways and bridges along the south side of the island are damaged.

  • International Medical Corps has staff on the ground conducting assessments, and is positioned to support mental health needs.

  • Public and private schools and universities are closed.Building and power infrastructure damage early Tuesday morning Guanica, Puerto Rico.


One death and eight injuries have been reported following the 6.4 earthquake that shook Puerto Rico at 4:24 a.m. local time, January 7, the strongest in a string of escalating seismic activity that started on December 28. All of the earthquakes have been occurring along fault lines to the south of the island, where the majority of the island’s power generation capacity is located. Yesterday’s earthquake triggered safety mechanisms at the plants, causing emergency shutdowns that led to power outages across the island.There have been reports of the collapse of soft story residential structures and other building damage. All Commonwealth and public services are closed. No tsunami warnings were issued. Currently the international NGO cluster is waiting for more information from the government, as the earthquakes have been ongoing. The emergency management department is evacuating hospitals and other sectors in the south. Shelters are being set up. So far, only one death has been reported. All public facilities and schools are closed, and many municipalities have declared a state of emergency.


International Medical Corps currently has a country office in Puerto Rico, and all staff are safe and accounted for. Our Puerto Rico team is working with Americares and Administración de Servicios de Salud y Contra la Adicción (ASSMCA) to coordinate the deployment of mental health professionals to areas in the south, the area most affected by the earthquakes. International Medical Corps will be supporting Department of Health efforts by providing cadres of volunteers trained on psychological first aid (PFA), to provide services to those affected by the quakes. With funding from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), we already have trained more than 400 people in PFA, including health personnel, community members and leaders. We have mobilized these volunteers, and International Medical Corps staff will accompany approximately 10 volunteers on a deployment to the south tomorrow.

Our medical surge mission-ready packages stand ready to provide additional support if requested. IMC will look at expanding our response as necessary as more information becomes available. Our field staff and Emergency Response Unit are close communication with Puerto Rico’s Voluntary Organizations Active In Disaster (VOAD) and Department of Health as they continue to assess needs.