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A 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern coast of El Salvador late Monday, according to the USGS. The quake was centered about 40 miles to the south of the small coastal town of Intipuca at a depth of about 14 miles. The National Weather Service Pacific Tsunami Warning Center initially said that dangerous tsunami waves were possible within about 185 miles of the epicenter along the coasts of Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, but said the threat had mostly passed about 15 minutes after the quake was first detected.
Media outlets in Nicaragua say the Nicaraguan government has activated a tsunami alert for its Pacific coast. Nicaraguan newspaper Hoy says evacuations have begun in the coastal communities of Corinto and San Juan del Sur.
The Pacific Typhoon Warning Center initially said there was no Pacific-wide tsunami threat. Minutes later, the agency released a list of estimated tsunami arrival times from Mexico to Chile. Another 26 minutes after that, the agency retracted that list, indicating that the tsunami threat had "mostly passed."
However, concerns remain about the damage potential from the quake. USGS's PAGER model says there is an 89 percent probability of one or more fatalities from this earthquake. Reports to the agency's "Did You Feel It?" page indicated a seismic intensity as high as VIII (eight) on the 12-point Mercalli scale near San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador.
AN EARTHQUAKE HAS OCCURRED WITH THESE PRELIMINARY PARAMETERS
ORIGIN TIME - 0352Z 14 OCT 2014
COORDINATES - 12.5 NORTH 88.3 WEST
DEPTH - 22 KM
LOCATION - OFF THE COAST OF CENTRAL AMERICA
MAGNITUDE - 7.4
Electricity was knocked out in parts of San Salvador by the quake, which was felt in Guatemala City and as far away as San Jose, Costa Rica. The quake was preceded by a 4.5 magnitude temblor near the Costa Rican coast, according to the USGS.
“There are no reports of major damage,” said Francisco Meardi, the mayor of the southeastern town of Usulutan, in an interview on El Salvador’s state-run radio. “We’ll see over the course of the night and morning what the reports are. The quake was very strong.”