7.6 quake jolts Costa Rica's Pacific coast: USGS

Posted at 09/06/2012 12:57 AM

SAN JOSE - A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck near the Pacific coast of Costa Rica Wednesday, briefly knocking out power and communications and triggering tsunami warnings, authorities said.

A tsunami warning was issued for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said, scaling back an earlier warning that extended from Mexico to Peru.

The US Geological Survey initially said the quake struck off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and measured 7.9 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, but revised both the intensity and location of the quake in a subsequent advisory.

In its latest advisory, the USGS said the quake measured 7.6 and was 10 kilometers (6 miles) northeast of Hojancha, Costa Rica.

A map showed the quake on land near the Pacific coast, in picturesque Guanacaste province, a tourist area popular for its cliffs, beaches and surfing.

Local television showed people in the area stunned by the strong quake in a country used to seismic activity.

"We were in the pool. And a wave rose up in the pool," one nervous tourist said on national television in Pinilla, near the quake's epicenter.

In the capital, San Jose, schools were evacuated. Many areas of the capital also lost power and cellular phone service for a brief period after the quake.

In February 2010, a massive 8.7-magnitude quake earthquake hit Chile's central Maule region, south of Valparaiso, generating tsunami waves, killing more than 500 people and causing billions of dollars in damage.