Disasters & Accidents

Argentina registers 50 aftershocks, no deaths in 6.4-magnitude quake

Buenos Aires, Jan 19 (efe-epa).- The magnitude-6.4 earthquake that struck the western Argentine province of San Juan and was felt across at least four other provinces, so far has delivered more than 50 aftershocks although no deaths or serious injuries have been reported, according to authorities.

“We’re not reporting significant personal injury, just two boys with slight injuries and two adults with somewhat more serious injuries than the youngsters, but all four are getting through the situation,” said San Juan Gov. Sergio Uñac at a press conference to provide a status report in the wake of the temblor.

The biggest shock from the quake, which occurred at a depth of eight kilometers (five miles), affected people with rickety homes, and provincial Security Secretary Carlos Munizaga on Tuesday morning called for “patience” because authorities are working to provide assistance to the families.

And he emphasized that quake prevention and education had worked appropriately in one of the areas in Argentina experiencing the greatest number of temblors.

The province had approved a building code for quake-resistant construction after the 1944 earthquake, the worst ever experienced in Argentina, causing the deaths of about 10,000 people.

“The 1944 earthquake had an intensity of 6.9, zero point five (magnitudes on the Richter Scale) more than the one (on Monday). The earthquake at that time destroyed 80 percent of the city’s infrastructure and left a regrettable toll of 10,000 deaths, being the most significant tragedy in the country’s memory,” Uñac said.

He also made reference to the 1977 quake, which had its epicenter in Caucete and measured 7.4 on the Richter Scale, leaving – Uñac said – 125 dead and destroying homes and other buildings.

“Thanks to that decision in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s (to approve strict construction regulations) we’ve been able to have this event of such an impressive magnitude without a single fatality, a fact for which we’re very grateful,” he said.

During the morning, during the tremors, the governor had reported that four people had been evacuated and provided details regarding the most significant damage caused by the quake around the province.

According to the National Institute for Earthquake Prevention (INPRES), the initial quake struck at 11:46 pm on Monday night near the town of Media Agua, south of the provincial capital.

INPRES has registered about 50 aftershocks, Irene Perez, a geologist with the Seismological Research department, told EFE.

The quake was felt in at least five Argentina provinces: Santa Fe, Cordoba, Buenos Aires, San Luis and La Rioja.

After the strongest shock, people did not delay in reporting resulting power outages, damage to homes and businesses and cracks in roadways via the media and social networks.

Miguel Castro, with the Mendoza seismological center, said in remarks to Channel TN that “being of such large magnitude and such shallow depth” the quake was widely felt around the country, since “the seismic waves travel many kilometers, more when it’s a magnitude of this scale.”

He added that the earthquake is reminiscent of the Nov. 23, 1977, quake that hit Caucete.

“But on this occasion the epicenter was located about 47 km southwest of the city of San Juan, where there is a series of active faults belonging to the Pie de Palo Valley. And also it’s very close to a surface fault in the San Juan River” basin.

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