LIBERIA, COSTA RICA (BNO NEWS) -- A powerful earthquake struck the coast of Costa Rica on early Wednesday evening, prompting a tsunami warning for a number of countries in the region, seismologists said. It was not immediately known if a tsunami had been generated.
The 7.6-magnitude earthquake at 8:42 p.m. local time (1442 GMT) was centered about 10 kilometers (6 miles) northeast of Hojancha, a town on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. It struck about 40.8 kilometers (25.4 miles) deep, making it a shallow earthquake, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center immediately issued a tsunami warning for the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, and Peru. A tsunami watch has also been issued for Chile, and experts in the U.S. state of Hawaii are discussing whether a tsunami watch or warning should be issued there.
"It is not known that a tsunami was generated. This warning is based only on the earthquake evaluation," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. "An earthquake of this size has the potential to generate a destructive tsunami that can strike coastlines near the epicenter within minutes and more distant coastlines within hours."
In the minutes after the earthquake, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center also briefly issued a Caribbean-wide tsunami watch by mistake. "The tsunami watch for the Caribbean is canceled because it was meant for the Pacific and was inadvertently sent to the Caribbean by mistake. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused," the center said.
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