The department (province) of Canelones, in southern Uruguay, experienced a significant earthquake measuring over 5.0 on the local magnitude scale, according to experts.
Enrique Latorres, working alongside geologist Leda Sánchez, confirmed the seismic activity. We are currently estimating the magnitude to be around 5-something. We need to analyze additional data from multiple sensors and calculate an average to obtain a more accurate estimation, Latorres explained to EFE.
The geologist in charge of the Geophysical Observatory of Uruguay, Leda Sánchez Bettucc, affirmed to the radio program Doble Click that it was a big earthquake because it was identified in all the stations of the country where they have installed stations that register seismic events, as for example in Paso de los Toros, Tacuarembó.
Sánchez stated that the reason of an earthquake in Uruguay, despite the low risk, is due to the reactivation of old faults.
The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the water, approximately one to two kilometers off the coast of seaside town Salinas, located at 30 km from Montevideo. The impact was felt in several areas, including Montevideo and Tacuarembó, which is located about 400 kilometers north of the affected region.
Latorres further mentioned that if their estimated magnitude is confirmed, this would be the largest earthquake recorded by their equipment during their 13 years of work.
The earthquake, which occurred at approximately 5:40 AM local time (8:40 AM GMT), was also detected by Google's alert system, which categorized it as a magnitude 4.0 quake.
Following the event, numerous individuals took to social media to report their experiences of the tremors.
The local government of Canelones, in coordination with the National Emergency System and other relevant organizations, has already initiated response efforts. They are conducting assessments in nearby areas to identify any potential impacts resulting from the earthquake.
At this time, the information we have is consistent with what has been publicly shared, and based on our survey conducted with local mayors and stakeholders, no significant impacts have been identified, stated the officials from the Intendencia, the local government of Canelones.
Lack of resources and bad risk management
Geologist Leda Sanchez expressed her concern about the insufficient allocation of state resources to support the operations of the Geophysical Observatory. In an interview with Desayunos Informales, Sanchez expressed her disappointment, stating, It saddens me greatly that despite our efforts in Canelones to establish a well-equipped station following the 2016 event, we are faced with a lack of resources. As you may have noticed, I am currently working alone, with assistance from my husband and Hernán Castro, who has other responsibilities but generously dedicates his mornings to support our work at the Observatory.
The Uruguayan geologist, who founded the Geophysical Observatory of Uruguay in 2013, said there is a history of poor risk management. Even if the risk is low it is still risk. In Uruguay there have been important earthquakes that have generated some damage. Like in Casabó, for example, he told Desayunos Informales.