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Quake Enhanced-PLAZA


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A 6.1 magnitude earthquake rattled homes in southwest Panama on Sunday near the border with Costa Rica, damaging buildings and injuring at least two people, but there were no immediate reports of fatalities, authorities said. The quake struck some 4 miles southeast of Plaza de Caisán, Panama, at a depth of about 12 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported.


Panamanian authorities said there was no tsunami alert from the quake. Panama's President Juan Carlos Varela said on Twitter that some shops and houses were damaged and that a woman was injured in the Panamanian port of Puerto Armuelles when the quake caused the ceiling of her home to cave in.


"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."


The USGS later pinpointed the epicenter of the quake as a few miles north of Paso Canoas in Costa Rica, right on the border with Panama. Local emergency services in Paso Canoas said they had no initial reports of damage or fatalities there.


Earthquakes threaten about one in three people in the world and rank as the costliest disasters, but starting from scratch is rarely an option. From Christchurch to Istanbul, vulnerable cities are retrofitting, while simple measures like installing seismic-resistant glass can reduce injuries and quake-proof entry systems can help rapid evacuations.


Authorities in Chile have learned from each major disaster, introduced new measures, and improved public education. Seismic building codes were enhanced significantly following the Valdivia earthquake in 1960, for example, and were updated again following the M8.8 Maule earthquake in 2010 that wreaked destruction in southern and central parts of the country. In that quake thousands of adobe buildings crumbled, and even some engineered buildings adhering to modern construction practices did not escape damage. And following the inadequate warning of the devastating tsunami that followed the quake in 2010, agencies were strengthened and protocols were developed for a common response.


Saturday's earthquake left at least 1,297 dead and 5.700 injured in the Caribbean island nation, with thousands more displaced from their destroyed or damaged homes. Survivors in some areas were forced to shelter in streets or soccer fields with their few salvaged belongings while overloaded hospitals scrambled to help those who were injured.


Small planes from a private firm and the Florida-based missionary service Agape Flights landed at the Port-Au-Prince airport Sunday carrying about a half dozen injured earthquake victims from the Les Cayes area. Young men with bandages and a woman were hoisted on stretchers to waiting Haitian Red Cross ambulances.


Working with USAID, the U.S. Coast Guard said a helicopter was transporting medical personnel from the Haitian capital to the quake zone and evacuating the injured back to Port-au-Prince. Lt. Commander Jason Nieman, a spokesman, said another helicopter was being sent from the Bahamas, along with other aircraft and ships.


Already on the scene were several members of Cuba's 253-member health care mission to Haiti, and the socialist nation's state media showed photos of them giving first aid to victims injured by the quake.


The magnitude 7.0 quake of 2010 hit closer to densely populated Port-au-Prince and caused widespread destruction. Haiti's government put the death toll at more than 300,000, while a report commissioned by the U.S. government placed it between 46,000 and 85,000.


Some efforts remain in the provinces of Kahramanmaraş and Hatay. On Saturday, a couple and their 12-year-old child were rescued in Hatay, 296 hours after the earthquake, state news agency Anadolu reported.


Efforts to retrieve survivors have been hampered by a cold winter spell across quake-stricken regions, while authorities grapple with the logistical challenges of transporti




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