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New quake shakes Nicaragua; nation on alert

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ALBERTO ARCE and LUIS MANUEL GALEANO | April 11, 2014 05:49 PM EST | AP


MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — A magnitude-6.6 earthquake shook Nicaragua on Friday afternoon, sending people running frightened into the streets less than 24 hours after a magnitude-6.1 quake rattled the Central American country.

There were no immediate reports of new casualties or serious damage, but the U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was felt in El Salvador and neighboring Costa Rica.

The new tremor, centered 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of the capital city of Managua, surprised people at restaurants and supermarkets, where the shelves swayed strongly, throwing many products to the ground.

Earlier, the government raised the number of people injured in the Thursday evening quake from 23 to 200. It also said that a 23-year-old woman had died of an apparent heart attack after the quake.

In the capital city of Managua, 300 homes were damaged and at least 20 were destroyed by Thursday's quake, said one of the mayor's deputies, Fidel Moreno.

Authorities ordered the demolition of two old buildings that had withstood the earthquake of 1972 that killed 10,000 people. Hospitals began discharging patients with minor illnesses so they could have beds available in the event of injuries from an aftershock or new quake.

"We're trying to take as many preventive measures as possible to prevent more deaths," said earlier government spokeswoman and First Lady Rosario Murillo.

President Daniel Ortega said that he raised the country's alert level to red, meaning government officials were evacuating everyone at risk of harm from aftershocks or new quake.

The alert also meant schools and businesses closed in the capital and in the northwestern city of Leon. There was much less traffic in the streets.

Despite the warnings, hundreds had gathered at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua for a religious act in preparation for Holy Week when the stronger earthquake hit.

"We were feeling better even though there were some aftershocks but this last quake was very strong. We are worried again," said Miguel Ugarte.

On Thursday night, officials took 155 people out of neighborhoods northeast of the capital city due to risk of landslides. One of the shelters was still housing 22 families on Friday.

The government said roughly 800 homes were damaged in the town of Nagarote and surrounding areas, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) northwest of the capital.

Friday's quake struck at 3:29 p.m. local time (20:29 GMT), and was centered about 6 miles (11 kilometers) east-southeast of the town of Nandaime. It had a depth of 85 miles (138 kilometers).

The USGS said Thursday's quake struck at 5:27 p.m. local time (23:27 GMT), and was centered about 11 miles (18 kilometers) southeast of the city of Larreynaga. It had a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometers).