Colombia Quake Kills 28 Buildings Toppled; 200 Injured; Phones, Electricity Disrupted
A powerful earthquake rocked Colombia on Wednesday, toppling buildings and killing at least 28 people. About 200 people were injured.
The quake, which struck at 1:41 p.m., had a preliminary magnitude of 6.5 and was centered about 175 miles west of the capital of Bogota, the Geophysical Institute of the Andes reported. The Seismologic Institute of the West in Cali, Colombia, measured the quake at magnitude 6.2.
The quake was felt strongly in Bogota, causing people to flee buildings and interrupting telephone service, but no damage was reported in the city.
In Pereira, believed to be the worst-hit city, at least 20 people were killed and 135 injured when buildings and walls collapsed, according to city officials.
Civilians dug shoulder-to-shoulder with soldiers, police and firefighters through the rubble of cement and bricks from a destroyed building, looking for survivors. A boy was pulled from the debris.
A firefighter, his yellow slicker smudged with dirt, gently cradled the boy in his arms and carried him away.
Rescue efforts would continue through the night, said Col. Gonzalo de Jesus Jimenez Diaz, municipal police commander.
About 150 people crowded outside the main hospital, anxious for word on missing or injured relatives or waiting to identify the dead.
Officials cut electrical power in the city of 700,000, about 100 miles west of Bogota, to avoid fires from possible gas leaks or downed power lines. Residents were urged to buy flashlights and candles.
Mayor Juan Manuel Buitrago decreed an overnight curfew in the most-affected parts of Pereira.
Eight deaths were reported in other towns in western Colombia, including two people who died of heart attacks during the quake in Neiva and Trujillo. Another person died when a wall collapsed on her in the town of Armenia.
About 200 people were injured in all, said Gen. Luis Enrique Montenegro, deputy director of the National Police.
Dozens of buildings were damaged or destroyed in other cities and towns, authorities said.
Near the epicenter in the town of Dagua, the quake sent tiles sliding off roofs and crashing onto the ground, said resident Nelson Duque. “It was horrible. They were hitting all around,” Duque told RCN radio.
An earthquake of magnitude 6 is capable of causing severe damage in populated areas.
A Jan. 19 quake centered in Colombia’s sparsely populated eastern plains killed eight people.
In June 1994, a 6.4-magnitude quake triggered landslides which buried several villages along the Nevado del Huila volcano south of Bogota, killing at least 1,109 people.