Honduran Coast Suffers Severe Earthquake

May 29, 2009

A magnitude 7.1 earthquake rocked towns and islands across the Caribbean coast of northern Central America early Thursday morning. According to The Associated Press, the quake collapsed more than 20 homes and killed at least four.

The quake struck at 2:24 a.m. Its epicenter was in the Atlantic Ocean, 75 miles NNE of La Ceiba, Honduras, near the HonduranBayIslands. The earthquake was felt in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize, and officials at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said small aftershocks also have been reported in Mexico.

The Caribbean coast of Honduras sustained the most damage from the quake.

According to early reports, three of the four confirmed deaths occurred in coastal Honduran towns. The fourth death took place in Mapulaca, Honduras, near the border with El Salvador.

A portion of the DemocracyBridge in El Progreso, Honduras, also collapsed during Thursday morning’s event. The bridge connects San Pedro Sula, Honduras’ second-largest city, to the rest of the country.

Arlie Thompson, governor of the BayIslands of Honduras – closest to the epicenter – said damage on the islands was minimal compared with damage reported in coastal towns across the bay.

He said there were reports that one home collapsed on the island of Utila and a couple of other homes suffered major damage. No deaths or injuries were reported on the archipelago.

“It’s mostly just broken glass and cracks in the walls here,” he said.

Thompson said electricity was out for several hours, but service was restored to most homes by 9 a.m.

A tsunami warning was issued for the islands and the mainland, but it was cancelled a few hours after the initial shake.

The earthquake was centered in the Cayman Trench, a moderately active fault zone that stretches from southeastern Cuba to Central America. According to USGS, the last earthquake in the area that registered above 7.0 was in 2001.

–Mike McDonald

 

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