Earthquake rocks Central America

BY SUSAN KIM | BALTIMORE | January 13, 2000


Rescuers frantically dug for survivors in Central America after a powerful earthquake shook the region at 11:35 a.m. Saturday morning.

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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