1 killed as 6.5 earthquake strikes off Nicaragua

MANAGUA (AFP) - A 6.5-magnitude earthquake jolted several towns along Nicaragua's Pacific coast on Saturday, rattling buildings but causing only minor damage.

The earthquake struck at 1734 GMT (1.34am Singapore time), 90km west of the capital Managua in the Pacific at a depth of 36km, the US Geological Survey said. Nicaragua said it was followed by about 10 aftershocks measuring between 3.6 and 5.3 in magnitude.

An 81-year-old man was the only reported casualty. He died of cardiac arrest, apparently succumbing to the temblor that lasted several seconds, according to the president of the national disaster response agency, Mr Guillermo Gonzalez.

He said some buildings suffered cracks, including the offices of the Ministry of Development, Industry and Trade.

Seismologist Angelica Munoz said the quake was powerful and felt almost throughout the country, and there could be more aftershocks.

In the city of Leon, 90km north-west of Managua, the dome of a church was damaged. People said objects fell to the ground in the capital. Cell phone service and Internet access were knocked out for a few minutes.

At least six houses suffered cracks on their walls after the first tremor, according to the authorities.

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake in Managua in December 1972 killed 5,000 people and left more than a quarter million homeless.