The Miami Herald
July 9, 2000

Quakes kill 6, terrify Nicaragua

 Scientists: Tremors will continue


 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 that can
 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 INETER since
 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. Some 4,000
 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.