PANAMA CITY – Central America was struck on Thursday by a magnitude-7.2 earthquake with so far no report of deaths, injuries or material damage, triggering an initial tsunami alert in Nicaragua and Costa Rica, which both are also on high alert due to the onslaught of Hurricane Otto.
The earthquake struck on Thursday at 12:42 p.m. local time (1643 GMT) off the Pacific coast of El Salvador and was felt not only in that country, but also in Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua and Costa Rica, but the tsunami alert was later canceled.
The temblor was also strongly felt in El Salvador’s capital, San Salvador, where homes, offices and restaurants were evacuated, fearing that buildings would collapse.
In addition, the quake also shook much of Guatemala, according to data from the country’s National Institute for Seismology, Vulcanology, Meteorology and Hydrology, which indicated that the earthquake was caused by a collision between the Cocos and the Caribbean plates.
The earthquake coincided with the arrival of Hurricane Otto, which entered Nicaragua and Costa Rica on Thursday afternoon, causing thousands of people to be evacuated in the recent hours and strong rains caused damage to houses and public infrastructure.
After several days in the Caribbean, Otto on Thursday struck the town of San Juan de Nicaragua, in the southeast of the country, as a category 2 Hurricane packing winds of up to 175km/h, according to the Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies.
The precipitation caused by the hurricane triggered alerts in several cities in Honduras, El Salvador and Panama, in addition to the declarations of national emergencies in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.
The authorities in Panama reported that eight people died during the rains caused by Otto, which began last Saturday and lasted until Wednesday, three of those deaths were directly due to the hurricane, and five due to having engaged in reckless conduct, according to official explanations.