The quake, which struck at 0251 GMT, rattled windows in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa roughly 519 kilometres to the east, but no damage was immediately reported.
The US Geological Survey said the quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.8, was centered 202 kilometres northeast of Barra Patuca in Honduras and 307 kilometres southwest of George Town in the Cayman Islands.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said a tsunami advisory was in effect for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands after the earthquake and warned of possible waves up to 1 meter (3 feet) above tide level.
The quake was very shallow, at only 10 kilometres, which would have amplified its effect.
It was also lightly felt in the Mexican state of Quintana Roo north of Honduras, according to Mexico’s civil protection director.
Rodrigo Anaya Rodriguez was in a hammock inside his house near popular tourist site Bacalar Lake on Mexico’s Caribbean coast in Quintana Roo when he felt three tremors.
“It felt like a bulldozer was driving past,” he said. “It didn’t last long but was very violent.”
He ran to his balcony and saw electricity posts and cables swaying.
In Honduras, firefighters said some residents in southern neighbourhoods fled their homes after feeling the shaking.
“We have reports that it was felt in the majority of the country, but we don’t have reports of damage,” said Lizandro Rosales, director of Honduras’ contingencies commission.
Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez said authorities had activated the country’s emergency system, but urged people to “please remain calm.”
“Based on the preliminary earthquake parameters, hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 1,000 kilometers of the earthquake epicentre,” the US National Weather Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.
Tsunami advisories, which are a level below “warnings”, were issued for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, Belize and Jamaica meanwhile were issued “threat” warnings of waves between 0.3 to one meter (a foot to 3.3 feet) high. The USGS’s PAGER algorithm assigned the event a “green alert,” meaning a low likelihood of casualties and damage.
“Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist,” it said.
(Source: The HIndustan Times)