Life resumes in Costa Rica after Thursday quake

Rescue teams in Costa Rica are still struggling to rescue hundreds of stranded tourists and locals after an earthquake hit Thursday, killing up to 15 people and leaving dozens unaccounted for.


AFP - Lidia Quesada searched among the rubble of her parents' house for personal belongings accompanied by her blood-stained father who had wounded his arm.

Quesada said her father was lucky to be alive as she put small items of clothing and a chair into a nearby pick up truck, surrounded by household goods crushed during Costa Rica's strongest earthquake in 150 years.

Inhabitants of the Central American country returned to collapsed houses and dead animals Friday, as rescue teams struggled to reach residents and tourists still stranded after Thursday's 6.1 magnitude earthquake.

Scores of tourists of various nationalities were evacuated from a hotel parking lot at La Paz waterfalls Friday, in hills near the capital San Jose, after roads were cut off by landslides provoked by the quake.

Some, angry after spending more than 24 hours without food, scrambled down mountain paths as helicopters evacuated elderly people and families with children from the scene.

Dozens remained unaccounted for and 15 were confirmed dead after the quake, which was followed by several strong aftershocks.

Some -- including several bodies -- remained trapped in vehicles buried in landslides in the mountainous area, an AFP photographer reported.

Collapsed houses lined the road leading to the epicenter of the quake, near the Poas volcano, one of the country's most popular tourist sites.

Where damage was less visible, many still said they had lost possessions in the quake which also shook water out of swimming pools and was felt across the country and in neighboring Nicaragua.

The worst hit areas remained without water or electricity Friday, despite efforts by the national electric company to repair the network.

Mechanical diggers worked on clearing up piles of mud and trees, that had blocked numerous roads, to enable rescue workers to reach isolated zones, particularly Cinchona, one of the most severely-damaged areas.

Donelia Calvo Araya could barely believe she was still alive as she glanced over the ruins of the house she had lived in for 17 years.

Animals wandered around the site and dead chickens lay on the ground.

"Wood houses took the shock of the quake better," Araya said.

She had been sunbathing on the terrace with her granddaughter when the ground began to move and said it was "a miracle" that her husband, who had been inside the house, survived.

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