Strong Costa Rica quake causes panic, minor damage

CANGREJAL, Costa Rica — A powerful magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook Costa Rica and neighboring countries Wednesday, sending panicked people into the streets and briefly triggering a tsunami alert but causing little damage. Authorities reported one confirmed death.

"When we felt the earthquake, we held onto each other because we kept falling," said Rosa Pichardo, 45, who was walking on the beach in Samara with her family when the quake hit.

"I've never felt anything like this. We just couldn't stay standing. My feet gave out under me. It was terrible, terrible," she said.

Officials said the quake collapsed some houses and at least one bridge and caused landslides that blocked highways. But Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla said there were no reports of major damage.

The quake was felt as far away as Panama and Nicaragua and was the biggest since a 7.6-magnitude temblor in 1991 left 47 people dead.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 38 miles from the town of Liberia and 87 miles west of the capital, San Jose. The quake was followed by three strong aftershocks of magnitudes 4.6, 4.5 and 4.4.

The Guanacaste region around the epicenter is a popular tourist destination known for its pristine beaches and nature and marine reserves. Costa Rica also is a popular destination for U.S. retirees.

Strong Costa Rica quake causes panic, minor damage 09/06/12 [Last modified: Thursday, September 6, 2012 12:47am]

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