Hundreds of aftershocks continue to rattle the Pacific coast

Work clearing a slide at Bajo Tapezco between Zarcero and Cuidad Quesada provides a bit of entertainment for residents nearby. The job may take some time because the rocks that fell are as big as automobiles. Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo

Even as experts are evaluating the damage and homeowners are making repairs of quake damage, the ground continues to move.

The Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico de Costa Rica at 5 p.m. Thursday said that there had been 700 aftershocks in the Pacific Ocean and nearby since Wednesday morning. Most were in the 2 to 3 magnitude, but there was one with a magnitude of 5.1 at 3 a.m. some 23 kilometers (about 14 miles) south of Sámara. Perhaps more significantly, the Observatorio said that quakes have been reported in Cartago near Volcán Irazu.

Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes photo
This is the downed former railroad bridge at Río Sucio

In the community of Nicoya, the administrative hub of the peninsula, the municipality’s mayor, Marcos Jiménez, said local government offices would be closed for three days while repairs are made. The municipal building suffered damage to glass, ceilings and also some walls. The mayor said he was taking the action for the security of the 153 persons who work there.

Cruz Roja photo
Cruz Roja workers have a line of residents who wish to cross the Río Sucio near Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. There are two launches in service due to a downed bridge.

The municipality noted that there also were 55 damaged homes in the area. The community of Nicoya in the municipality of the same name is about 20 miles east of the estimated quake epicenter near Sámara.

The national emergency commission said there were 107 population centers with some type of problem related to the earthquake. These were in Alajuela, Heredia, San José Puntarenas and Guanacaste. The Ministerio de Vivienda y Asentamientos Humanos said its workers had counted 179 damaged homes.

In Nicoya, the commission said that 90 percent of the public services had been reestablished. Water service had been restored to Puntarenas, Tilarán and Cañas Dulces de Liberia. The quake broke pipes.

The Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes said that 19 of 22 stretches of road that had been affected by the quake had been put back into service. The problems mainly were slides.

Still closed is a stretch between Zarcero and Ciudad Quesada where there was a slide in a section of the road known as Bajo Tapezco.

The Cruz Roja said it has workers with boats at the Río Sucio in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí to transport residents who were stranded because a former railroad bridge collapsed. In some cases, ill or injured were being evacuated Thursday. One woman was nine months pregnant. The river is 100 meters wide, some 328 feet, at that point.

There were 240 persons reported in public shelters around the country due to damage to their homes. Four were in Grecia. There were 42 persons in a shelter in San Antonio de Nicoya and 60 being housed in Sámara, said the Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias.

The Instituto Nacional de Seguros, the state-run insurance agency, said it already had received 300 claims for damage. Most Costa Ricans do not carry earthquake insurance.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguros Social, the health provider, and the Universidad de Costa Rica set up psychological teams to provide comfort to those suffering from anxiety and stress. Contacts were mainly in hospitals and clinics, although the health workers said that there might be house calls, many in areas that were seriously affected.

The Instituto Costarricense de Turismo issued a news release internationally in which it said that all air service continued to work normally and that the tourism industry was not seriously affected. The news of Costa Rica’s 7.6 earthquake received heavy play in the international media, and some reported incorrectly that persons had died.

Daniel Oduber airport in Liberia handled four international flights Thursday, the commission said.

The commission said that evaluation of the damage would continue today. One crucial point is a dike at the Guanacaste town of Filadelfia where there is damage in four places.

The dike is key to flood control there. Officials said fixing it would cost 20 million colons or about $40,000.

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