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  HOME | Central America

Death Toll From Costa Rica Earthquake Climbs to 14

SAN JOSE -- The death toll from the magnitude-6.2 earthquake that rocked Costa Rica has risen to 14, the Red Cross said early Friday after 10 more bodies were found.

Rescue teams and security forces, meanwhile, were still trying to reach the zone most affected by Thursday's quake, since some communities remained cut off due to landslides.

Daniel Gallardo, the head of the National Emergency Commission, told reporters that over the course of the day several helicopters will rescue hundreds of people still stranded in the areas closest to the epicenter - in the Poas Volcano zone, some 60 kilometers (37 miles) northwest of San Jose.

A Red Cross spokesman told Efe that thus far rescue officials have confirmed some 2,450 people directly affected by the earthquake and at least 22 missing. A total of 1,078 people are being housed in shelters and more than 1,244 remain stranded.

Four people had been confirmed dead on Thursday, but that figure climbed to 14 after rescue workers found 10 more bodies buried by landslides and it is expected to increase further in the coming hours.

The greatest impact from the quake and its aftershocks - some 1,200 through early Friday - was felt in the towns of San Pedro de Poas and Vara Blanca, the communities closest to the epicenter, with homes flattened, roads rendered impassable and some neighborhoods cut off.

Buildings were also damaged in San Jose and the city of Alajuela, where police evacuated offices as a precaution.

The earthquake occurred at around 1:19 p.m. on Thursday and was felt throughout Costa Rica. Authorities in neighboring Nicaragua said the quake was felt in parts of their territory, but did not cause any damage or injuries.

Security Minister Janina del Vecchio said the priority on Friday is to enter the area most affected by the quake and rescue those who were injured.

Gallardo, meanwhile, said cloud cover and rain in the area surrounding the Poas Volcano was making visibility difficult for pilots of rescue helicopters, but that authorities will work to evacuate the inhabitants of San Pedro de Poas and Vara Blanca during the course of the day.

President Oscar Arias, who will visit the disaster zone on Friday, is expected to declare a national emergency.

 

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