7.6-magnitude quake rattles Costa Rican coast

Quake rocks Costa Rican coast
Quake rocks Costa Rican coast


    Quake rocks Costa Rican coast


Quake rocks Costa Rican coast 01:02

Story highlights

  • Costa Rica's president says the quake is one of the strongest to hit the country
  • Officials offer conflicting reports about whether there have been fatalities
  • The quake was on Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula, on the Pacific coast
  • CNN affiliate Teletica shows people streaming out of buildings after the quake

Costa Rican officials surveyed damage Wednesday after a major earthquake rattled the country's northwest coast.

The 7.6-magnitude quake was "one of the strongest earthquakes" ever to hit the Central American nation, President Laura Chinchilla said.

The president praised residents' response, saying there were no reports of major physical damage from the quake.

"Costa Ricans knew how to react," she said.

The quake struck Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula Wednesday morning, on the Pacific coast about 87 miles west of the capital, San Jose. It was centered more than 28 miles deep.

Schools in the hardest hit areas will be closed Thursday and Friday while engineers inspect buildings for damage, Chinchilla said.

Officials gave conflicting reports about whether anyone had been killed.

Late Wednesday Chinchilla said there were "no human losses," but earlier emergency officials said at least one person had died from a heart attack suffered during the quake.

"It started out pretty mild, but then it really got going," said Bill Root, owner of a hotel in Samara, also near the epicenter. "It was a very strong earthquake. Everything was falling off the shelves and the ground was rolling."

Costa Rica's National Emergency Commission reported debris on roads, electrical outages and some structural damage in homes, especially on the Nicoya Peninsula, about 14 kilometers (8 miles) from the epicenter.

Red Cross ambulances evacuated patients from two damaged hospitals, said Enrique Guevara, a spokesman for the Red Cross in the Americas.

Hours after the quake, authorities canceled all tsunami warnings and watches.

Major earthquake shakes Costa Rica
Major earthquake shakes Costa Rica


    Major earthquake shakes Costa Rica


Major earthquake shakes Costa Rica 02:00

CNN affiliate Teletica showed people streaming out of buildings when the earthquake hit.

Telephone service was knocked out in cities near the epicenter, Teletica reported. The station showed photos submitted by viewers of a partially collapsed bridge over the Rio Sucio and a landslide on a highway. Other photos showed floors littered with merchandise inside stores and homes with minor damages.

"It's unnerving when solid concrete beneath you is shaking from side to side. It was pretty scary," said David Boddinger, editor of the English-language Tico Times in San Jose.

Seismologists have been predicting a strong quake in that area for years now, and Costa Ricans were wondering if this was the big one, he said.

      CNN recommends

    • pkg clancy north korea nuclear dreams_00002004.jpg

      North Korea nuclear dream video

      As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
    • Photos: Faces of the world

      Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
    • pkg rivers uk football match fixing_00005026.jpg

      How to fix a soccer match

      Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
    • No Eiffel Towers, Statues of Liberties, Mt. Rushmores, Taj Mahals, Aussie koalas or Chairman Maos.

      15 biggest souvenir-buying no-no's

      It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.