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Quake Shakes Panama-Costa Rica Border

December 26, 2003

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ A strong earthquake shook the border of Costa Rica and Panama early Thursday, killing an infant and leaving dozens of others with mainly minor injuries, authorities said.

The magnitude-6.3 temblor struck at 2:11 a.m., disrupting some late-night Christmas parties in Puerto Armuelles and cutting electricity there. Panamanian officials said it was centered about seven miles northeast of Puerto Armuelles, located on the country’s Pacific coast.

A two-week-old girl died when part of her home collapsed in Puerto Armuelles, said Omar Smith, director of operations for Panama’s National Civil Protection System.

He said at least five other people were injured and three homes were destroyed in the town, which is located a few miles east of the border with Costa Rica.

Across the border in the town of Neily, Costa Rica, about 40 people sustained minor injuries from falling objects. Officials said they were treated at a hospital and released.

Christmas get-togethers were still under way when the quake struck.

``We were celebrating, and it suddenly started shaking,″ said Abraham Arauz, a retiree. ``The electricity went out, and there was some panicking.″

Carlos Herrera, an official with the Red Cross in Costa Rica, said no calls had been received requesting assistance for the quake region.