Costa Rica Largely Unscathed by Massive Quake

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Costa Rican authorities are assessing the damage from a powerful magnitude 7.6 earthquake that shook the country Wednesday, killing one person.

The quake collapsed some houses and at least one bridge. It also triggered a tsunami warning and a landslide that shut down a highway.
"People were really scared,"  Hojancha city official Kenia Campos said. The town is located just a few miles from the epicenter of the earthquake.

"We have had moderate quakes but an earthquake (this strong) hadn't happened in ... years," Campos said.

Experts say the quake was deep, about 25 miles below the surface. Quakes that strike deep underground cause less damage, but are more widely felt.

"If it was a shallower event, it would be a significantly higher hazard," seismologist Daniel McNamara of the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Olman Vargas, president of the national College of Architecture and Engineering, said that Costa Rica's strict building codes also helped lessen the impact of Wednesday's quake.

"We have a culture of concrete and steel," he said. "Years ago we abandoned building in mud and adobe, something that's caused a lot of problems and that they're continuing in other countries."

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