UPDATE 1 – Strong earthquake strikes off Costa Rica, no major damage

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A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 has struck just off the coast of Costa Rica, seismologists and residents say. Several people were taken to hospital but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries.

The earthquake, which struck at 8:28 p.m. local time on Sunday, was centered in the Pacific Ocean about 16.9 kilometers (10.5 miles) southwest of the city of Parrita, or 66 kilometers (41 miles) southwest of San Jose.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) put the preliminary magnitude of Sunday’s earthquake at 6.5, while Costa Rica’s seismological agency put the magnitude at 6.9. Both said the earthquake struck at a shallow depth, about 15 to 20 kilometers (9 to 12 miles) below the surface.

“Shook the house fairly violently and all windows rattled,” a resident in Santa Gertrudis Norte, about 61 kilometers (38 miles) from the epicenter, told the European-Mediterranean Seismological Center. Several others said the electricity briefly went out in their area.

There were no immediate reports of serious damage or fatalities, according to the Costa Rican Red Cross. But the La Prensa Libre said at least 2 people were rushed to hospital after suffering heart problems during the earthquake. Some minor damage was also reported.

“We are gathering information to address the incidents that are being reported to us,” said Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo SolĂ­s. “We must take the necessary preventive measures in the case of aftershocks, heed the authorities, and pay attention to official information,” he said.

No tsunami warnings or watches were issued as a result of Sunday’s tremor. “Based on all available data, there is no tsunami threat from this earthquake,” the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin to member countries.

Computer models from the USGS estimated that as many as 22.2 million people across the region could have felt the earthquake, including 32,000 people who may have experienced “strong” shaking. It said the likelihood of casualties or serious damage is slow.

Costa Rica is on the so-called ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’, an arc of fault lines circling the Pacific Basin that is prone to frequent and large earthquakes. A powerful 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck the country’s northwest in September 2012, killing 2 people

A strong earthquake with an estimated magnitude of 6.4, struck southeast of San Jose in May 1910, killing about 400 to 700 people in what remains the country’s deadliest disaster in modern history. The earthquake caused major damage and destroyed large parts of the city of Cartago.

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