Strong earthquake hits Costa Rica

Powerful 7.6-magnitude quake struck near Pacific coast, initially triggering tsunami warnings across region.

    Strong earthquake hits Costa Rica
    Patients of the Hospital Calderon Guardia in San Jose were evacuated following the earthquake [AFP]

    A strong 7.6-magnitude earthquake has struck near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, briefly cutting power and
    communications and initially triggering tsunami warnings, authorities said.

    The tsunami warning issued after the quake struck on Wednesday has now been cancelled, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.

    The warning for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua had been prompted by the quake that has so far caused no sizable damage, according to local authorities.

    However, two people have died, one of them from a heart attack, the Red Cross said.

    Freddy Roman, spokesperson for the Red Cross in Costa Rica, said there were no immediate details on the cause of the second death. Local media reported a man was crushed under debris.

    Schools evacuated

    The US Geological Survey initially said the quake struck off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and measured 7.9 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, but revised both the intensity and location of the quake in a subsequent advisory.

    In its latest advisory, the USGS said the quake measured 7.6 and was 10km northeast of Hojancha, Costa Rica.

    A map showed the quake on land near the Pacific coast, in Guanacaste province.

    Local television showed people in the area stunned by the strong quake in a country used to seismic activity.

    "We were in the pool. And a wave rose up in the pool," one tourist said on national television in Pinilla, near the quake's epicentre.

    In the capital, San Jose, schools were evacuated. Many areas of the capital also lost power and cellular phone service for a brief period after the quake.

    In February 2010, a massive 8.7-magnitude quake earthquake hit Chile's central Maule region, south of Valparaiso, generating tsunami waves, killing more than 500 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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