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26 Dec 2003 08:54
An infant was killed by falling debris and dozens of people were injured when a strong earthquake shook the border of Costa Rica and Panama early on Thursday, Panama’s federal relief agency reported.
The magnitude-6,3 tremor struck at 2.11am local time at a depth of 33,6km, the United States Geological Survey reported.
A two-week-old girl died when a portion of her home collapsed during the quake in the Pacific coast town of Puerto Armuelles, Panama, said Omar Smith, director of operations for Panama’s National Civil Protection System. He said at least three houses fell down and five people were injured in Puerto Armuelles, located a few kilometres east of the border with Costa Rica.
The epicentre of the earthquake was estimated to be about 12 km northeast of Puerto Armuelles in Panama’s Chiriqui province, Smith said.
In Puerto Armuelles, the earthquake knocked out electricity for four hours, toppled a wall at a baseball stadium and opened cracks in the local hospital.
Christmas Eve get-togethers were still under way when the quake struck.
“We were celebrating, and it suddenly started shaking,” said Abraham Arauz, a retiree from Puerto Armuelles.
“The electricity went out, and there was some panicking.”
The quake startled residents of the town of Chiriqui, Panama, as they set off fireworks in the streets, but only appeared to cause light damage there.
Costa Rican authorities reported structural damage to several homes and roadways—with one house completely destroyed.
A hospital in Neily, Costa Rica, treated more than 40 people for light injuries, mostly from falling household objects.
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