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Earthquake rocks Central America

BY SUSAN KIM | Baltimore | January 14, 2001

The quake, which had a magnitude of 7.6, was centered off the Salvadoran coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center in Colorado. El Salvador and Guatemala were hardest hit.

"It was felt from Mexico City to high-rise buildings in Colombia," said Waverly Person, a geo-physicist with the Earthquake Information

Center.

He estimated that at least 2-4 people had been killed in Guatemala and another seven in El Salvador. But Person -- along with other responding

organizations such as the Red Cross -- fear that the death toll could be much higher.

"There appears to be a lot of damage," he said. "Communications are knocked out."

Landslides in and around San Salvador may have buried dozens of homes. Many roads were completely blocked by mudslides and landslides.

There were also reports of a bus buried by a landslide in Tecolouca, east of San Salvador.

Throughout El Salvador and Guatemala, there are reports of collapsed buildings. Radio stations were beginning to return to the air on Saturday afternoon. The San Salvador airport has been closed.

A tsunami warning was in effect Saturday for Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Mexico, with a tsunami watch posted for Ecuador, Panama, and Peru.

Honduran officials reported cracked walls in many buildings but had no reports of injuries.

"Until we have better communications, we have to wait and see," said Person. "It doesn't look good."


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