Quakes kill 6, terrify Nicaragua
Scientists: Tremors will continue
BY GLENN GARVIN
MANAGUA -- After enduring 48 hours of earthquakes and tremors
that have left
six dead, 60 injured and thousands homeless, Nicaraguans got the worst shock
of all Saturday: word that it could continue for weeks.
``The seismic activity is going to continue,'' said Claudio Gutiérrez,
head of the
Nicaraguan Institute for Territorial Studies (INETER). ``We want to warn the
population that this is going to keep going on, and that it could last days or even
An earthquake measuring 5.2 on the Richter scale, a strength level
cause considerable damage, rocked the city of Masaya, 19 miles southeast of
here, Friday night. Two people died and many of the city's 35,000 inhabitants
were driven into the streets. Thousands slept there in a driving rain.
Five of the six victims of the earthquakes were children younger than 10.
The Masaya tremor was the second-strongest of 150 measured by
the earth began to pitch and buck Thursday afternoon.
The first, which INETER initially reported as 5.9 but subsequently
revised to 5.4,
killed four people.
The tremors have convulsed poor neighborhoods in the towns and
cities just south
of Managua, where many houses are built of stone or unreinforced concrete.
More than 1,500 homes have been destroyed or seriously damaged.
people have moved into government shelters, and thousands have either fled
Masaya to stay with friends and relatives in other cities, or are living in the street.
Several historic Catholic churches dating back to the Spanish
colonial area were
damaged by the quakes, but they were nonetheless jammed full Friday night by
people praying desperately for the ground to stop moving. Even Masaya's dead
were not spared by the quakes: Tombs in the cemetery in the Indian
neighborhood of Monimbó were split open and coffins scattered across the
The city's schools and its famous artisans' market have closed.
The front doors of
many homes and businesses are secured with heavy chains and padlocks,
evidence of the exodus. The national police rushed reinforcements to Masaya
Friday night after two attempts to loot stores.