Calm returned to Nicaragua on Tuesday after the entire nation was put on alert following a series of strong earthquakes that rocked the capital and the surrounding central regions for four days.
At least two deaths and 42 injuries were reported in the province after four earthquakes – one measuring 6.2 on the Richter scale – and about 1,000 strong aftershocks that began on Thursday sent thousands of Managua residents fleeing from their homes.
Nicaraguan civil defense authorities counted 2,378 homes damaged during the disaster.
The government issued an emergency alert on Sunday after scientists reported unusual seismic activity where the Coco and Caribbean crustal plates join underneath Nicaragua’s surface. In 1972, more than 10,000 people were killed and 20,000 others injured when a strong earthquake devastated Managua. The quake was blamed on the crustal plates’ movements.
Television stations on Tuesday showed dozens of Managua residents returning to their homes and clearing up after the damage. The entire capital was empty as businesses were closed and many workers decided to take advantage of the government’s emergency alert and push up their long Easter weekend holiday.
Trying not to instill panic, government officials had warned people to remain outdoors and not to sleep inside their homes.
Government officials had warned people to remain outdoors and not to sleep inside their homes
“At the entrance to my home, I have a backpack filled with clothes and other things waiting. The tank in my car is full. We’re not panicky, just nervous,” said Juan, a lawyer, after he filled up at a gas station in Managua.
In the few supermarkets that were open, shoppers were stocking up on basic essentials.
The government set up temporary shelters throughout the capital and in nearby cities where more than 1,600 sought refuge, according to first lady Rosario Murillo, who also serves as her husband’s official spokesman.
President Daniel Ortega did not appear in public during the emergency, setting off waves of criticism from the opposition. “The country is being run by a ventriloquist,” wrote noted journalist Carlos Fernando Chamarro on his Twitter account. “Why is he so quiet?”
The Sandinista government said that it welcomes a team of experts from Germany, Cuba, the United States, Japan, Mexico and Venezuela to determine the exact causes of the seismic activity.