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Families flee earthquake in Central America

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  • NEW: Frightened patients flee hospital and refuse to return as aftershocks rumble
  • NEW: No immediate reports of casualties; damage reported but extent not yet known
  • Quake struck at 1:11 a.m. ET about 235 miles (380 km) west of Panama City
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DAVID, Panama (CNN) -- Dozens of families frightened by aftershocks slept outside overnight Wednesday after a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook coastal Panama near the border with Costa Rica.

The quake was centered about 235 miles (380 km) west of Panama City, near the town of David, according to the U.S. Geological Survey .

The temblor occurred at 1:11 a.m. ET and residents reported feeling three aftershocks.

There were no immediate reports of casualties, but damage was reported in the cities of Paso Canoa, David and Puerto Armuelles. The extent of the damage was not immediately known.

Many families opted to stay outside their homes, saying that they felt as if the earth were swallowing them and that trees and their houses were falling down.

One resident, Carlos Estribi, said he picked up his children in his arms and ran to the public plaza in David, seeking protection since he felt like his house was collapsing.

Family members told CNN that patients at the Regional Hospital of David went outside and refused to go back in because aftershocks were still being felt. Patients at the Materno Infantil Jose de Obaldia Hospital and the Regional Rafael Hernandez Hospital also fled their rooms.

Cyclists from Costa Rica, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and Germany, who were in David for a bicycle race, also had to leave their hotel rooms.

Police and other security officials were inspecting schools, hospitals and private and public buildings for damage.

Journalist Demetrio Abrego in David contributed to this report.

All About EarthquakesPanamaCosta RicaU.S. Geological Survey

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