BBC News (Link) (January 9, 2009) Video at link
Rescuers have searched mountainous areas of central Costa Rica after a powerful earthquake on Thursday that left at least four people dead. The 6.1-magnitude tremor hit Poas Volcano National Park north of the capital, San Jose, causing landslides to block roads and damage buildings. Red Cross officials said 10 people were missing, believed buried by a landslide at the popular La Paz waterfall. Rescue workers fear more victims will be found as relief operations widen.
The Costa Rican government declared a state of emergency in San Jose and surrounding areas, including Cartago, Alajuela and Heredia. Transport Minister Karla Gonzalez said the government had contracted most of the private helicopters in the country, which has no army, to help with rescue operations, the Reuters news agency reported.
The earthquake, which struck at 1321 (1921 GMT) on Thursday, cut off electricity in parts of the capital and officials reported damage to roads and houses. American Dan Whitlock said the tremor was so strong that guests stumbled as they ran out of the hotel he was staying in. "I was outside and all of a sudden I could see the whole building shaking," Reuters news agency quoted him as saying.
"Today is a day of mourning for Costa Ricans," President Oscar Arias said at a news conference. "These losses of life fill us with pain; our prayers will be for their families," Arias added, noting that "hundreds of families had seen serious damage to their homes." The president is due to visit the earthquake zone.
The US Geological Survey said the tremor was centred some 35km (22 miles) north-west of San Jose. Costa Rica is located on the Pacific Ring, which forms a belt of seismic activity along the edge of the Pacific Ocean.