Now the job is to estimate the damage and make repairs

Keith Clower took this photo of a landslide into the sea during Wednesday’s quake as he flew an ultralight helicopter between Playa Grande and Playa Conchal in Guanacaste. Keith Clower photo

School has been suspended today in much of Nicoya peninsula so that structural experts can inspect the buildings, according to the national emergency commission. The schools are in Cóbano, Lepanto and Paquera.

Also doing assessment work will be technicians from the Ministerio de Obras Públicas y Transportes. They will be mainly in Guanacaste and Puntarenas and the northern zone. The agency said that any slides that had taken place on major highways were small and had been removed by nightfall Wednesday.

One slide at Zarcero in an area known as Tapezco was considered the most serious. Clearing that might take three weeks, the agencies said, although it appears that passenger vehicles can travel on this route, which leads to San Carlos. Truckers were urged to use an alternate highway.

One bridge, the former railroad span at Río Chirripó on Ruta 4 in Sarapiquí collapsed during the quake.

The highway workers and employees from the Consejo Nacional de Vialidad will be checking bridges on the Interamericana Norte and then on the General Cañas Autopista near San José.

Bridges also will be checked over the ríos Virilla, Rafael Iglesias, Barranca, Grande and Tempisque, the agency said. That work is expected to take two days.

The Cámera Nacional de Turismo did a quick telephone survey of members to find mostly minimal damage. But the Hotel Riu in Guanacaste suffered some structural damage.

Earthquake experts from the Observatorio Vulcanológico y Sismológico at Universidad Nacional said they would fly over the Nicoya peninsula later today to evaluate damage. They said they were especially interested in the amount of energy released by the string of quakes to estimate the possibility of more activity. They noted that since Oct. 5, 1950, there had not been a major quake in the peninsula. They noted that there had been 230 aftershocks with the largest being of 4.7 magnitude.

The Comisión Nacional de Prevención de Riesgos y Atención de Emergencias has declared its highest alert for the country. The agency warned that more quakes may follow and that residents should take precautions.

The Instituto Nacional de Acueductos y Alcantarillados sent tankers with water to Puntarenas Centro Wednesday because repairs were being made until 10 p.m. on damaged lines there. Tankers also went to Bagaces and Tilarán where damage to the distribution lines caused the water to be discolored from infiltration by ground water.

The Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad said a 128-kilovolt breaker in Santa Rita had been affected and that power was interrupted to Paquera, Jicaral, Cóbano and Sámara. That outage was believed to have been repaired by 4:30 p.m. The outage also affected cell telephone service in the area.

The Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social said it evacuated Hospital Monseñor Sanabria in Puntarenas so that structural damage could be evaluated. Those patients who could go were sent home and those more seriously ill were housed in a nearby structure, said the Caja.

The 7.6 magnitude quake took place at 8:42 a.m. and sowed panic among many office workers and others not only in Guanacaste but in the entire country. Most damage has been restricted to falling objects and some broken windows. Damage on the peninsula was more extensive with houses being destroyed. There were reports of damaged homes nearer the Central Valley in Naranjo and Valverde Vega.

Initially there were reports that two persons had died. One was a woman in Filadelfia de Carrillo, whose death from a heart attack was confirmed by the Cruz Roja. But that death does not appear to have been related to the quake. The death of a workman that was widely reported could not be confirmed.

Glass shattered in this municipal office in Nicoya and a ventilating device was dislodged from its location. Glass damage was significant in the administrative center of the peninsula. Servicios Periodísticos Globales S. A. photo

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