Kuala Lumpur Post


Strong quake rattles Colombian capital, sparks panic

BOGOTÁ  — A strong earthquake shook the Colombian capital Bogota yesterday, setting off sirens and sparking brief panic, including in one woman who died after jumping from a building, authorities said.

No major damage was reported, but according to the mayor there were “reports of people trapped in elevators and other minor events”.

The Colombian Geological Survey (CGS) put the quake’s magnitude at 6.1, while the US Geological Survey (USGS) reported it at 6.3.

The Colombian agency said the earthquake struck at 12.04pm (1.04am Malaysian time today), with its epicentre in the town of El Calvario in the centre of the country, 40 kilometres southeast of Bogota.

It was followed by a 5.9-magnitude aftershock, the agency posted on social media.

Buildings shook and sirens sounded as thousands of panicked residents poured into the streets of the capital, gripping their cellphones as they called loved ones, AFP journalists observed.

“The only serious incident reported was a woman who threw herself from the 10th floor of a residential building… apparently due to a nervous disorder,” said the mayor of the capital, Claudia Lopez, on the X social network, formerly known as Twitter.

Firefighters confirmed that the woman was dead.

Social media users reported feeling the quake in the cities of Villavicencio, Bucaramanga, Tunja, and Ibague, all near the epicentre.

“Strong tremor in Bogota. Let’s remain calm and cautious. Please take all precautions against possible aftershocks. Calm, serenity and caution,” Lopez warned on X.

US ambassador Francisco Palmieri was giving a speech at a Bogota hotel when the quake hit, as seen in video of the session, attended by President Gustavo Petro. Palmieri stopped talking to ask out loud in English if there had been an earthquake, then resumed speaking, with a smile. The hotel was not evacuated.

A piece of the ceiling in the congress building detached but caused no injuries, according to videos released by congress’s lower chamber on the X social network.

A landslide was reported in Villavicencio, while only the windows of homes and businesses were reportedly affected in El Calvario, according to an update from the National Unit for Disaster Risk Management.

Central Colombia is very seismically active and features one of the country’s main geological faults.

In 2008, a 5.5 magnitude quake centred in El Calvario left 11 people dead. — AFP

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