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Strong earthquake jolts Costa Rica; no early reports of deaths

September 5, 2012 | 10:11 am


MEXICO CITY -- A powerful earthquake jolted northwestern Costa Rica and much of Central America on Wednesday morning, with early reports of scattered damage but no deaths (link in Spanish).

The U.S. Geological Survey put the magnitude of the quake at 7.6 and its epicenter near the town of Hojancho, 87 miles west of the capital of San Jose. A tsunami alert was issued for parts of the region but later canceled.

It was the fourth tremor of magnitude 6 or more in the last week in some part of the world, according to the USGS.

PHOTOS: Costa Rica shaken by powerful earthquake

Costa Rica's La Nacion newspaper reported collapsed houses and structural damage in some buildings and businesses along the country's Pacific Coast. In the capital, offices and homes were evacuated amid scenes of panic, but there was little serious damage, the paper said.

The local Red Cross reported minor injures but no deaths, the Tico Times, another Costa Rican newspaper, said.

In the epicenter town of Hojancho, a city official told the Associated Press that the quake had also triggered landslides that blocked roads.

"So far, we don't have victims," the official said, according to the AP. "People were really scared .... We have had moderate quakes but an earthquake [this strong] hadn't happened in more than 50 years."


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Image: A U.S. Geological Survey map of the region struck by a strong earthquake Wednesday. Credit: USGS / EPA