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Earthquake Update – Town Disappears

January 13th, 2009

poasNew Quakes

Five more earthquakes hit Costa Rica last night and in the early morning hours.  All occurred in the same general area and the massive 6.2 from last Thursday. The biggest was 4.3, not a biggie, but enough strike great fear into the people of that already badly affected area.

If you are interested in an interactive web page showing who felt what during the many quakes, click here.

Poas Volcano

If that were not enough, the Poas volcano had a small eruption this morning.  Thursday’s earthquake was centered only a few miles from the volcano, normally dormant.  Should Poas become active once more, the implications are truly scary for the thousands who live nearby, including my wife’s sister whom we visit 2-3 times each month.


The town of Cinchona de Sarapiquí, Heredia has apparently simply been removed from the map of Costa Rica.  It no longer exists. For many years, I have wanted to visit the La Paz waterfalls.  It was a HUGE tourist attraction here in Costa Rica, and if I understood the news correctly this morning, it is gone!  I tried to verify the facts in the paper, but could not.  My  wife, though, verified that I had heard correctly.Also gone is the San Rafael waterfall.

CORRECTION:  La Paz is NOT gone! My error!

The river Sarapiqui has been badly damaged and is running thick with mud and dead fish.  This too was a very popular attraction for those tourists who wanted some great white water rafting.

The Environment

A disaster in and of itself. The damage done to the environment in the affected area is enormous and affects not only the wildlife and the natural beauty of the area, it will have a profound affect on eco-tourism.

The earthquake has altered the biological corridor San Juan-La Selva, placing  important wildlife at risk.  This includes  mammals, birds and reptiles.  Creatures such as  jaguars, lapas, jaguars, tapir and monkeys  are just some of the animals that will feel the effect of the earthquake.

Giselle Monge,  director of the School of Environmental Sciences, National University,  feels that it will take at least a decade to recover the original ecological balance in the area around Vara Blanca Poás and other sites belonging to  San Juan-La Selva biological corridor.  A biological corridor is a geographic area that ensures the maintenance of species diversity and ecological and evolutionary processes, facilitating conservation.  The collapse of the mountain certainly caused total destruction of the habitat for some species. The Biological Corridor San Juan-La Selva is known for its large quantity of almond trees which provide habitat for the Great Green Macaw.   The extensive wetlands are also considered critical to the survival of the manatee.

With the arrival of the rainy season around May-June, the now unprotected mountainsides will collapse. Soil will become saturated and unstable.

Experts are also predicting a change in the flow of rivers  which certainly will affect the habitat of some species of reptiles, animals and plants growing alongside the rivers.

The festival in Palmares has been postponed at least a week.

And although I know this pales compared to the rest, the Angel (foods) factory near La Paz has been nearly destroyed affecting a lot of workers. They make, without a doubt, the BEST pineapple marmalade there is. It also points out that even though many people survived, there is no work in the area. I expect an increase in crime in and around the zone.  So sad.

Latest Numbers:

16  dead
22  missing
1.058  people in CAJA hospitals
128.135  directly affected
2.300  homeless
100  injured

Estimated damage: $100 million

For more Costa Rica news (in English) click here.

One Response to “Earthquake Update – Town Disappears”

  1. Mario on January 14, 2009 7:32 am

    La Paz is still there, it´s flowing brown and will be at least for a few more weeks. The roads to the waterfall are damaged, and the bridge next to the waterfall is gone. There will probably be no access to the falls for at least 6 to 8 months while they get everything back up again.