PANAMA CITY – A magnitude-5.0 earthquake hit the Panamanian capital on Monday, causing hundreds of people to evacuate their offices and other tall buildings, but no injuries or material damage were reported.
The director of the Geosciences Institute at the University of Panama, Luis Eduardo Camacho, confirmed the magnitude of the quake, saying that it caused a “strong vibration” that was felt for about five seconds.
Camacho said that the temblor’s epicenter was in the Las Perlas archipelago in the Gulf of Panama and ruled out the danger of a tsunami, adding that the quake was also felt in the areas of Chitre, Chorrera, Chepo and Taboga Island.
He went on to say that an hour after the quake there had been no aftershocks and that, if they occurred, it was expected that they would not be very powerful.
Meanwhile, the director of Panama’s National Civil Protection System (Sinaproc), Jose Donderis, reported that more than an hour after the quake no material damage or injuries had been reported, despite the fact that the temblor was felt along the country’s entire Pacific coastline.
The earthquake was felt for several seconds at 2:35 pm and immediately people began streaming out of office buildings in downtown Panama City, EFE noted.
A few minutes later, Sinaproc tweeted that preliminary reports indicated that the quake had a magnitude of 5.0 on the Richter Scale, with its epicenter in the Bay of Panama, just offshore from the capital.
Several Metro stations in Panama City were immediately evacuated as a safety precaution and a few minutes later subway service was suspended for approximately 90 minutes.
Emergency authorities made an inspection of the underground Metro line, which returned to operation at 4:12 pm, according to what the Metro management said on Twitter.
About an hour after the quake, the Fire Department told the public that they could return to their offices or residences.
Earthquakes are rare occurrences in the Panamanian capital, although the city experienced a magnitude-5.6 quake in 1971 that was dubbed the “Pele quake” because iconic Brazilian soccer star Edson Arantes do Nascimento, known as “Pele,” was visiting the city at the time.