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Panama struck by 6.7 magnitude earthquake near Costa Rica

An office structure at the end of an abandoned pier, a local landmark, inclines to the right after an earthquake in Puerto Armuelles, Panama, Sunday, May 12, 2019.
An office structure at the end of an abandoned pier, a local landmark, inclines to the right after an earthquake in Puerto Armuelles, Panama, Sunday, May 12, 2019. AP Photo

A strong earthquake struck a lightly populated area of Panama near its border with Costa Rica on Sunday, causing some wooden porches to collapse and products to shake from store shelves.

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Panamanian authorities said at least two people had been injured in a village but gave no details. Sigifredo Perez, head of operations for Costa Rica’s National Commission of Emergencies, said no major damage or injuries had been reported in his country.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake had a 6.1 preliminary magnitude and was centred seven kilometres southeast of the town of Plaza de Caisan. The quake occurred at a depth of about 37 kilometres.

Images posted on social media showed simple wooden homes that partially collapsed in rural areas, deep fissures in tightly packed beach sand and entire grocery store shelves that spilled containers of processed food and bottled beverages on the floor.

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“I was in the supermarket and everything swayed,” Carla Chavez said by phone from David, the capital of Panama’s Chiriqui province near the quake’s epicenter. “Merchandise fell on the floor. Everything happened so fast.”

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Panama’s National Civil Protection Service said via Twitter that walls cracked at a hospital and two supermarkets in Changuinola in Bocas del Toro province.

Northern Panama is frequently hit by earthquakes. In 1991, a magnitude 7.4 quake killed 23 people and injured 500. A magnitude 6.7 tremor in 2003 killed two people and damaged hundreds of houses.

Sigifredo Perez, head of operations for Costa Rica’s National Commission of Emergencies, said no major damage or injuries had been reported in his country.

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