7.3-magnitude quake jolts Venezuela, no tsunami threat

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Caracas, Aug 22 (IANS) An earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale has jolted Venezuela’s northeast coast, with no immediate reports of casualties.

The Venezuelan Seismological Research Foundation (Funvisis) said the quake occurred on Tuesday evening at 5:31 p.m., with the epicentre located 19 km southeast of the town of Yaguaraparo, in Sucre state, Xinhua news agency reported.

The quake was felt in surrounding regions, including the states of Nueva Esparta, Monagas, Bolivar, Delta Amacuro, Aragua and Carabobo, and the capital Caracas, Interior Minister Nestor Reverol said. People were forced to evacuate buildings in the capital.

The strong tremor, which cracked walls and streets, was also felt in nearby Trinidad and Tobago, and as far as Colombia’s capital Bogota, where the international airport was briefly closed.

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The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center earlier issued a warning saying destructive tsunami waves were possible, but later revised its forecast, saying that there was no tsunami threat from the quake.

“No victims have been reported as yet,” the minister said in a televised address, adding officials were monitoring the situation to assess any damage.

“We are calling for the utmost calm and patience,” Reverol said.

The central government was in contact with state governors to coordinate monitoring efforts, the minister added.

According to the US Geological Survey, which monitors earthquake activity around the world, the quake was the largest to strike Venezuela since 1900, with a magnitude of 7.3 on the Richter scale, but it hit at a depth of more than 123 km below the ground, appearing to have caused limited damage.

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–IANS

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