Magnitude 7.0 quake shakes Central America

Tremor hits off the coast of El Salvador, and was also felt in Nicaragua, which is being lashed by a hurricane.

    A 7.0 magnitude earthquake off the Pacific coast of Central America has shaken the region, just as a hurricane barrelled into the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.

    There were no immediate reports of any damage from Thursday's quake, which occurred around 120km off the coast of El Salvador at a depth of 33km, according to the US Geological Survey.

    Earlier reports had put the quake's magnitute at 7.2.

    A tsunami alert issued by El Salvador was later lifted. 

    In El Salvador, the earthquake could be felt in the regions of Chalatenango, San Salvador, Cabanas and San Miguel.

    El Salvador sits along the major seismic zone known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a series of faults marked by 450 active volcanoes over 40,000km.

    Over the past two weeks, earthquakes with magnitudes over 7.0 have hit Japan and New Zealand, both of which are also near the Ring of Fire.

    Shaking was also felt in the Nicaraguan capital of Managua, and as far as the Costa Rican capital San Jose.

    The earthquake struck one hour after a powerful hurricane packing winds of 175 km/hr made landfall on Nicaragua's other coast.

    The heavy rains Hurricane Otto was bringing were likely to cause dangerous flooding and mud slides, according to the US National Hurricane Center.

    Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency due to the quake and the storm.

    "It is certainly a difficult day today for countries in Central America," Al Jazeera David Mercer, reporting from the neighbouring Guatemala, said, adding that the quake was also felt there.  

    But Mercer said that countries on the path of the hurricane has been preparing for days for landfall, and authorities are hoping that the casualties will be limited.

    SOURCE: News Agencies


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