A 7.6-magnitude quake occurred beneath the Nicoya peninsula, 140km (87 miles) west of the capital, San Jose. Crowds of people ran out of homes and workplaces into the streets during the Costa Rica earthquake on Wednesday, searching for loved ones and a safe place to wait it out. The 7.6-magnitude quake did not cause the same sort of damage it could have in other places, largely due to the country’s switch to building with steel and concrete, rather than the traditional adobe and mud, as reported in TIME.
Only one man died during the earthquake, which was felt as far away as Panama and Nicaragua. But this man died of a heart attack probably caused by fright, says the Red Cross. The low injury toll of 20 shows that the country was ready for the quake. Others could probably learn from Costa Rica’s approach.
This Central American region lies on a fault line and is riddled with volcanoes, so it’s no surprise that they would have learned to react appropriately to earthquakes. With structural codes being updated regularly to ensure safety, the latest designs and technologies keep people ready for a Costa Rica earthquake, and good alarm systems keep people informed so that they can react when the time comes.
The Red Cross said a 55-year-old woman died of a heart attack in Guanacaste, near the epicentre of the quake, and a construction worker was killed when a wall collapsed.
A tsunami alert which had been issued for the area has been cancelled.
The quake rattled buildings in some parts of the capital, San Jose, Reuters news agency reported.
Power and communications were briefly knocked out, according to the Costa Rican authorities.
Regional media reported the quake could be felt as far away as Nicaragua and El Salvador.
The US Geological Survey originally said it had a magnitude of 7.9, but revised it down to 7.6.
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center, which had at first issued a tsunami warning for the Pacific coast of most of Central and South America, has cancelled its alert.
President Laura Chinchillla said Costa Rica’s emergency services were surveying the damage.
She said that so far there had been no reports of any serious damage to buildings.