Strong earthquake jolts Costa Rica

Published: 9 January 2009 0:00 CET

At least 13 people, including 3 young girls, died after a 6.2 earthquake hit Costa Rica on Thursday at 1 pm local time. More than 20 people are still missing. According to Costa Rica Red Cross - which mobilized more than 400 volunteers to support the rapid response efforts - more than 2300 people have been affected.

The areas around Sarapiqui, Santa Barbara and Poas were the hardest hit with damage reported to some houses and buildings.

Costa Rica Red Cross has additionally deployed more than 50 specialized rescue teams. Access to some areas has been made difficult because of destruction to roads and bridges.

Assessing the damage

“This Friday, we will send out more volunteers to isolated areas to assess the extent of the damage and evacuate people to safety if needed (…) All our volunteers and staff are mobilized to provide fast and efficient support to all victims,” says Miguel Carmona Jimenez, President of the Costa Rica Red Cross Society.

Landslides have been reported in the affected areas, especially in the Cinchona area where a bus was hit by a tree. The Red Cross also reported the death of 3 children aged 4, 7 and 12 years which were victims of the landslides in Cinchona. More than 820 people still need to be evacuated in the region.

Quick response

The Red Cross has been able to save many lives thanks to the quick rescue action taken by trained volunteers and staff in specially-equipped emergency vehicles. They will remain on high alert over the coming days in case of aftershocks.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is monitoring the situation around the clock. Its main regional office for the Americas as well as the Pan American Disaster Response Unit (PADRU), both based in Panama, will provide additional support to the Costa Rica Red Cross Society as needed.