Magnitude 7 offshore quake shakes Central America as hurricane hits

PHOTO: USGS

SAN SALVADOR (REUTERS) – A strong earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Central America shook the region on Thursday (Nov 24)  just as a hurricane barreled into the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but there were no immediate reports of any quake damage.

Emergency services in El Salvador said on Twitter it had received no reports of damage at a national level, but urged those living along the country’s Pacific coast to withdraw up to 1km away from the shore.

The 7-magnitude quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.2, was very shallow at 10.3km below the seabed, which would have amplified its effect.

https://twitter.com/elcomercio/status/801865051812589568

Its epicentre was located some 149km south-southwest of Puerto Triunfo in El Salvador, according to the US Geological Survey.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre warned that tsunami waves of up to 1m could hit the Pacific coasts of Nicaragua and El Salvador after the quake, but later said that available data showed the threat had passed.

 

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency due to the quake and Hurricane Otto, which landed on the country’s southeastern coast earlier on Thursday, his spokeswoman said.

“We were serving lunch to the lawmakers and the earthquake started and we felt that it was very strong,” said Jacqueline Najarro, a 38-year-old food seller at the Congress in San Salvador.

“We were scared.” 

Earlier on Thursday, the Category 2 Hurricane Otto hit land near the southeastern coast of Nicaragua, where thousands had already been evacuated away from vulnerable coastal areas and into shelters.