People gather in front of the Supreme Court, after being evacuated from their buildings following an earthquake in San Jose September 5, 2012. A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Costa Rica on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said. (Photo : Reuters)
A massive 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Costa Rica on Wednesday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.
The earthquake, which was initially given a 7.9-magnitude, hit at 8:42 a.m. local time about 87 miles west of the capital San Jose, the USGS said. According to the USGS, the quake struck at a depth of 25.4 miles.
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The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center issued a tsunami warning for Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Peru. A tsunami watch was also issued for Chile.
The center stated that the warnings and watches were solely based on the earthquake evaluation and that "an earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that could strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours."
According to Reuters, residents of San Jose reported that electricity was cut and that water flowed in the streets from pools. CBS News reported that officials were having issues accessing the earthquake zone.
Douglas Salgado, a geographer with Costa Rica's National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention, told CBS News, "There's chaos in San Jose because it was a strong earthquake of long duration. It was pretty strong and caused collective chaos."
Some structural destruction was reported in the town of Hojancha, which is located about 6 miles from the epicenter. The USGS said, "Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and mud wall construction."
The Red Cross has not reported any casualties.