World News

Strong quake rocks Costa Rica, two dead

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (Reuters) - A strong 6.1-magnitude earthquake struck Costa Rica on Thursday, killing two children who sold candy to tourists in a national park and damaging buildings in the capital.

A strong earthquake struck Costa Rica on Thursday, killing at least one child and injuring several people as it damaged buildings in the capital and shook nearby volcanoes. The quake of magnitude 6.1 triggered landslides in rural areas and damaged a highway near a national volcano park. REUTERS/Graphics

The quake triggered landslides in rural areas and damaged a highway near the Poas national volcano park.

Two young girls selling candies at the volcano were buried in a landslide and died, said Jorge Jimenez, a spokesman for the Red Cross. Several other people were reported to have been hurt in a village northwest of the capital, San Jose.

“I was very frightened. First I got underneath an arch support and then, when it calmed down, I got out of the house,” lawyer Michael Henreichs, 35, said in the capital.

The quake’s epicenter was 20 miles from San Jose at a depth of 21.7 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey said, and caused shaking for 40 seconds.

Local television showed buildings with shattered windows and damaged walls, but emergency services officials had no reports of widespread injuries.

Pieces of ceiling fell off homes in San Jose and a group of tourists was reported to be stranded on a damaged road.

Earthquakes above magnitude 6 can cause widespread damage in populated areas. Thursday’s quake was initially measured at 6.2.

The tremor cut off power to parts of San Jose and some businesses evacuated employees. Images from a TV studio showed ceiling lights swaying.

The National Coffee Institute, or ICAFE, said it had no reports of major damage to the country’s coffee farms.

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

Dan Whitlock, an American doing missionary work in Costa Rica, said the earthquake was so strong that guests at his hotel stumbled as they ran out.

“I was outside and all of a sudden I could see the whole building shaking,” he said. “You could see the pool water moving like a tsunami.”

Additional reporting by Robert Campbell and Noel Randewich; Editing by Peter Cooney