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World News

Costa Rica calls off search for earthquake victims

Carlos Ugalde,77, walks inside his house, damaged by an earthquake, in Poasito de Vara Blanca, January 13, 2009. REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - Costa Rican authorities called off their search on Monday for victims of landslides from an deadly earthquake 11 days ago.

Rescue teams have pulled 23 bodies from the Poas volcano region, where waves of earth buried cars and crushed homes during a 6.1 magnitude quake on Jan 8. Seven people are still missing, officials said.

Shifting ground and the threat of landslides have menaced rescuers digging through rubble in search of survivors.

“The victims are presumed to be in areas that are inaccessible because so much earth would have to be moved and because of dangerous conditions,” said Reinaldo Carballo, a spokesman for the country’s emergency response agency.

Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination because of its lush natural parks, volcanoes and rich wildlife, but it is prone to natural disasters like the rest of Central America.

Government officials preliminarily estimate the damage of the earthquake at $100 million (69 million pounds).

Reporting by John McPhaul, Editing by Sandra Maler

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