Reports surfaced that indicate a chaotic aftermath following a powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Costa Rica and a wide swath of Central America on Wednesday.
The quake struck around 8:42 a.m., about 38 miles (60 kilometers) from the town of Liberia, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The quake was centered about 25 miles (41 kilometers) below the surface. The magnitude initially was estimated at 7.9.
There were no initial reports of damages or deaths in the earthquake zone near the Pacific coast or in the capital of San Jose; however, Douglas Salgado, a geographer with Costa Rica's National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention, told the Associated Press that officials were having problems accessing the area.
Authorities flew over the area to assess damage to highways and other structures, he added.
Multiple news outlets reported that the quake did not knock out phones or electricity in San Jose, 88 miles (141 kilometers) from the epicenter, but communications were down near the epicenter.
"There's chaos in San Jose because it was a strong earthquake of long duration," Salgado told AP. "It was pretty strong and caused collective chaos."
An employee at the Hotel Punta Islita in the Guanacaste area, who spoke to the AP via phone, said: "Everybody is crying a lot and the telephone lines are saturated."
According to several reports, trees shook violently and light posts swayed as the quake was felt in the coastal town of Nosara in northwest Costa Rica.
A tsunami warning was in effect for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. Officials said it was unknown if a tsunami was generated, but the warning was based on the size of the earthquake.
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