Update, 7 p.m. EST: The tsunami watch has been canceled, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. A tsunami measuring 12 centimeters was recorded at Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
(6 p.m. EST) -- A strong earthquake and aftershocks rocked the island of Haiti today, prompting an ongoing tsunami watch for four Caribbean-bordering countries: Haiti, Cuba, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic.
The 7.0-magnitude quake occurred about 10 miles west of the Caribbean nation's capital of Port-au-Prince; according to the Web site for the Wall Street Journal, buildings have been damaged, including a hospital from which people were screaming for help.
Port-au-Prince is nearly 100 miles south of Royal Caribbean's private "island" of Labadee, which is on the northern coast of Haiti. A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean tells us that no damage has been reported there.
According to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, a "destructive, widespread" tsunami threat doesn't exist -- but local tsunamis are possible. If tsunamis do hit, the first waves are estimated to come ashore soon -- between now and 6:30 p.m. EST -- though the time between successive waves can be from five minutes to one hour.
We've reached out to all cruise lines with ships scheduled to dock today in the Bahamas and Labadee, including Carnival, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean (no ships called on Dominican Republic ports today, or Havana).
So far, a spokeswoman for Norwegian Cruise Line tells us all of its ships have already departed for the evening and won't be impacted. A spokesman for Holland America says it, too, does not anticipate any impact.
We'll keep you posted as additional responses come in.
--by Melissa Paloti, Managing Editor
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Update: Caribbean Tsunami Watch Canceled
January 12, 2010