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Quake Shakes Caribbean; Toddler Killed

A strong earthquake rocked the Caribbean islands of Dominica and Guadeloupe early Sunday, killing a child, destroying numerous homes and knocking out power to thousands of people.

A 3-year-old boy was crushed to death in Guadeloupe (search) when a wall collapsed at his home in the southern coastal town of Trois-Rivieres, French Overseas Department officials said. The boy's mother and sister were injured.

Several houses were destroyed and others were damaged in Trois-Rivieres, Radio Caraibes reported.

A man was hospitalized when he jumped from an upper floor of his home in the coastal town of Capesterre-Belle-Eau, French regional officials said on condition of anonymity. Authorities initially said he had died.

The temblor had a preliminary magnitude of 6, said John Minsch, a seismologist at the U.S. National Earthquake Information Service (search). Its epicenter was about 28 miles north-northwest of Dominica (search), near the Guadeloupe archipelago of Les Saintes.

Several tremors followed the initial quake, including two with a 4.9 magnitude.

A magnitude 6 quake can cause severe damage. The earthquake lasted several seconds and was felt as far away as Antigua and Barbuda (search), some 125 miles north of the epicenter. No damage was reported there.

At least eight homes were destroyed and 25 others damaged in Terre-de-Bas, an islet off Guadeloupe's southern coast, Radio Caraibes reported.

About 10 people, including a woman who suffered a heart attack, were evacuated to mainland Guadeloupe from Les Saintes and hospitalized in stable condition with minor injuries, officials said. Some areas were without telephone service and electricity.

No injuries were reported in Dominica, but two dozen damaged homes in the north would have to be demolished, National Disaster Coordinator Cecil Shillingford said.

"Some 150 people were displaced. While most went to stay with relatives or friends, some have gone to shelters," he said.

Damage to a power transformer knocked out electricity to the northern half of the island of 70,000 residents, authorities said.

Touring the damaged in the north, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said, "We are going to need serious technical and financial assistance to respond."

The facade of a Roman Catholic church collapsed in Portsmouth, 26 miles north of the capital, Roseau, said Ian Douglas, a parliamentary representative from the area. The church was empty at the time.

Portsmouth's hospital also suffered damage and patients were evacuated to a nearby building, Douglas told state-run Dominica Broadcasting Corp.

Flooding and landslides caused by heavy rains made roads impassable, complicating the damage assessment, Shillingford said. Authorities said they suspended damage assessments Sunday afternoon because of the weather and would resume early Monday.