Moderate earthquake rattles Venezuela's capital

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - September 12, 2009 The U.S. Geological Survey reported a preliminary magnitude of 6.4 for the quake, saying the epicenter was off Venezuela's Caribbean coast 65 miles (110 kilometers) west of Caracas. The head of Venezuela's seismological agency, Francisco Garces, put the quake at magnitude 6.2, followed by an aftershock registering 4.0.

Two young people, ages 9 and 26, suffered serious leg injuries, and 12 other people had minor injuries, Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said.

El Aissami said western Falcon state reported the most structural problems, with seven houses and two other buildings damaged. Two houses were reported damaged in neighboring Lara state, where the wall of a medical clinic also collapsed, state civil protection director Hector Vargas told the state-run Bolivarian News Agency.

Buildings swayed as the quake rocked Caracas about 3:40 p.m. local time (4:10 p.m. EDT, 20:10GMT). Only a few people evacuated buildings to stand outside as a rainstorm slowed traffic. No injured were reported in the capital, El Aissami said.

The head of Venezuela's national civil protection agency, Luis Diaz, said authorities would evaluate two Caracas malls, including one where glass had shattered, to ensure their safety.

Cities in nearby Carabobo and Aragua states were also jolted, but did not experience major problems. In Aragua, there were reports of damage to some houses, and some people were injured on an escalator at a mall during a panicky evacuation, a state security official, Col. Cesar Oliveros, told Venezuela's official news agency.

Infrastructure Minister Diosdado Cabello said there were no reports of major infrastructure damage. No problems were reported at oil refineries or other installations in Venezuela's key oil industry.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.