6.2 Earthquake Rocks Central Valley

January 9, 2009

Costa Rica was rocked by an earthquake of 6.2 magnitude Thursday afternoon, destroying several homes reportedly near the epicenter.

At least one child was reportedly killed, and the National Emergency Commission (CNE) issued a red alert for the Central Valley, which experienced aftershocks throughout the afternoon.

The quake’s epicenter was 10 kilometers east of Poás Volcano, where a smaller quake of 3.2 was registered on Wednesday, and 6 kilometers deep, according to the Volcanological and Seismological Observatory of Costa Rica (OVSICORI).

Channel 6 Repretel TV News reported serious damage, including at least six houses that collapsed near the Poás Volcano.

The quake was the biggest felt in recent years in the Central Valley, though a quake of 6.5 in Costa Rica’s Southern Zone on Nov. 26, was felt here, according to Walter Jiménez, of OVSICORI.

Jiménez warned that further quakes should be expected in the coming days.

At least four aftershocks were felt in San José and the Central Valley, where people poured from their homes and office buildings as the streets shook. The initial earthquake was felt across the country.

Broken windows and other minor damage were reported in the valley.

Transport and Public Works Minster Karla González said her ministry was investigating possible damage to a dam on the RioBlancoRiver in Sarapiquí, on the Caribbean slope.

Public Security Minister Janina del Vecchio, speaking with Channel 7 her ministry had formed a central command and told viewers to “find a safe place” and to keep their belongings close.

The Red Cross reported that landslide had cut off the community of Vara Blanca, in Heredia, but officials were in communication with the people there.

The JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, northwest of San José, was temporarily closed as officials checked for damage to the runway.

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