Strong earthquake off coast of El Salvador

International

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A strong earthquake hit off the coast of El Salvador early Thursday, sending frightened residents running out of their homes in the pre-dawn hours.

Authorities initially said a small tsunami was possible, but it did not appear. Civil defense employees were scouring the country for signs of damage, but they had reported no victims and no significant damage hours after the quake.

“Monitoring of the entire country reflects that there has not been grave or widespread damage,” El Salvador’s Civil Defense agency said.

The environmental ministry said in a statement that the “greatest threat of tsunami for El Salvador has passed. There have not been variations in the sea level.”

Iván García of the Red Cross said it only had reports of some small landslides on highways, but with no victims.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported the magnitude 6.6 quake was centered about 17 miles (27 kilometers) south-southeast of La Libertad, a suburb of the regional capital, Santa Tecla, and it was recorded at a depth of 65 kilometers (40 miles).

The government closed 960 public schools in the coastal area for 24 hours and asked private schools to do the same.

It said that several aftershocks were recorded.

The earthquake was felt strongly in the capital, San Salvador. People left their homes with flashlights, and power was knocked out in at least some areas.

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