A strong earthquake off the Pacific Coast of Central America shook the region on Thursday, US monitoring agencies said, just as a hurricane barrelled into the Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua and Costa Rica.
Emergency services in El Salvador said on Twitter there were no immediate reports of damage at a national level.
El Salvador and Nicaragua on Thursday lifted a tsunami alert they had briefly declared following the offshore earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.
The 7.0 magnitude quake, initially reported as a magnitude 7.2, was very shallow at 10.3 kilometers below the seabed, which would have amplified its effect. Its epicentre was located some 149km south-southwest of Puerto Triunfo in El Salvador, according to the US Geological Survey.
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega declared a state of emergency due to the quake and Hurricane Otto, which landed on the country’s southeastern coast earlier on Thursday, his spokesperson said.
“We were serving lunch to the lawmakers and the earthquake started and we felt that it was very strong,” said Jacqueline Najarro, a 38-year-old food seller at the Congress in San Salvador. “We were scared.”
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center warned that “hazardous tsunami waves are possible for coasts located within 300 kilometers of the earthquake epicenter.”
El Salvador’s government also said it saw the threat of tsunami waves hitting the coast.
Earlier on Thursday, the Category 2 hurricane hit land near the southeastern coast of Nicaragua, where thousands had already been evacuated away from vulnerable coastal areas and into shelters.