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Costa Rica Rocked by Magnitude-7.6 Earthquake

"Everybody is crying a lot and the telephone lines are saturated"

(TheBlaze/AP) --  A powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake shook Costa Rica and a wide swath of Central America on Wednesday. There were no immediate accounts of injuries, but communications were down in many areas.

The USGS said the 8:42 a.m. quake struck about 38 miles (60 kilometers) from the town of Liberia and 88 miles (141 kilometers) west of the capital, San Jose. It was centered about 25 miles (41 kilometers) below the surface. The magnitude initially was estimated at 7.9.

In the coastal town of Nosara in northwest Costa Rica, trees shook violently and light posts swayed. Teachers chased primary school students outside.

"Everybody is crying a lot and the telephone lines are saturated," said Diana Salas, a worker at the Hotel Punta Islita in the Guanacaste area, speaking by telephone, but she said was no damage there

A tsunami warning was in effect for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. It said it was unknown if a tsunami was generated, but the warning was based on the size of the earthquake.

"Earthquakes of this size have the potential to generate a widespread destructive tsunami that can affect coastlines across the entire Caribbean region," the warning center explained.

The USGS added that "overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though some resistant structures exist."

"The predominant vulnerable building types are adobe block and mud wall construction," it said.

This is a breaking story.  Updates will be added. 

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