Reports are beginning to surface that indicate a chaotic aftermath following a powerful, magnitude-7.6 earthquake in Costa Rica and a wide swath of Central America on Wednesday.
According to the USGS, the 8:42 a.m. quake struck about 38 miles (60 kilometers) from the town of Liberia. It was centered about 25 miles (41 kilometers) below the surface. The magnitude initially was estimated at 7.9.
While no initial reports of damage or deaths in the earthquake zone near the Pacific coast, nor in the capital of San Jose have been reported, Douglas Salgado, a geographer with Costa Rica's National Commission of Risk Prevention and Emergency Attention told the Associated Press that officials were having problems accessing the zone and reaching people in the area.
Authorities are currently flying over the area to assess damage to highways and other structures, he added.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that the quake did not knock out phones or electricity in San Jose, 88 miles (141 kilometers) from the epicenter, but communications were down near the epicenter.
"There's chaos in San Jose because it was a strong earthquake of long duration," Salgado told AP. "It was pretty strong and caused collective chaos."
An employee at the Hotel Punta Islita in the Guanacaste area spoke to the Associated Press via phone call and told the newswire that "everybody is crying a lot and the telephone lines are saturated."
Reports indicate that trees shook violently and light posts swayed as the quake was felt in the coastal town of Nosara in northwest Costa Rica.
A tsunami warning was in effect for Costa Rica, Panama and Nicaragua, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said in a bulletin. It said it was unknown if a tsunami was generated, but the warning was based on the size of the earthquake.