San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Deaths, Quakes Mark Easter Holy Week

DOZENS of violent deaths were reported during Semana Santa – although none was related to the 17 earthquakes that shook the country during the Easter holiday week.

Both La Nación and Al Día reported 32 violent deaths between April 4 and 11.

Traffic accidents were the primary problem, causing 15 deaths. Eight drownings and one murder also were reported. One person reportedly died from burn injuries and another death is still under investigation.

Suicide was the third-highest cause of death during Semana Santa, claiming five victims. Holidays are a common time for people to commit suicide, often because of feelings of isolation, Julia Woodbridge, founder of the suicide-prevention organization Rescuing Lives Foundation, told The Tico Times.

THE Red Cross reported only 23 deaths related directly to Semana Santa, down from 37 during the same period in 2003.

The Red Cross’ s aid its efforts helped save the lives of 75 people in dangerous situations on highways and in tourist areas around the country during the week. No injuries or deaths were reported as the result of the 17 earthquakes reported between April 4 and 10.

The strongest, registering 5.0 on the Richter scale according to the National Seismological Network (RSN), shook the Southern Zone 60 kilometers south of Quepos on the Pacific coast April 7.

Seven aftershocks followed, ranging from 3.6 to 4.4 in intensity.

IMMIGRATION officials and traffic enforcement officers also stepped up vigilance during the week, when much of the country shuts down and goes on vacation.

Special Semana Santa operations caused an increased number of Nicaraguan immigrants to be denied entry into the country.

Immigration officials turned back at least 2,443 Nicaraguans attempting to take advantage of elevated border traffic during Semana Santa (see separate story).

Increased activity during Semana Santa also resulted in the detainment of 214 cars after their owners were cited for driving without licenses, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, offering unauthorized transportation services to the public, or not carrying appropriate circulation permits.

OFFICERS also cited myriad drivers for driving in a stage of “pre-intoxication” and for driving with passengers under the age of 18 who were not wearing their seatbelts (see separate article).

Representatives of the Ministry of the Environment also remained on the lookout for illegal activity throughout the week, particularly the trafficking of birds and plants.

On Saturday in the Pacific-slope town of Naranjo alone, environment officials rescued nearly two dozen birds and countless orchids and other plant species that were being illegally trafficked, La Nación reported.


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