Once again, the Twitter microblogging platform has proven to be an exceptional way to efficiently move news across the globe, in this case, related to the 6.2 Earthquake that was felt throughout Costa Rica, with the epicenter in Vara Blanca only 35 Km. away from the capital city of San José. After the strong tremor, people in the capital city and neighboring towns of Alajuela and Heredia, stayed outside their office buildings, as police closed off streets in downtown areas fearing that old buildings would collapse. With twitter we saw the first report of the earthquake as @reiterstahl wrote a single word as the tremor was felt: TEMBLORRRRRR!!!!!!. The reports via twitter and the tags #cr and #temblor quickly dominated
After the quake, telephone lines became jammed, and electricity was cut off in several areas of the city for a few hours. People with family and friends in the affected areas had to depend on alternative information sources such as the CoverItLive live-blogging application that the La Nacion newspaper has kept available for people to access, read and respond after their website came down.
Other alternative news sources were journalist @ameliarueda who kept the twitter account buzzing with insider news on dramatic situations as people contacted her. In the touristic area of La Paz Waterfall Gardens, at least 200 employees and about 200 other visitors and tourists were trapped and isolated at the La Paz Peace Lodge and Waterfall gardens, which according to an employee who communicated with Amelia Rueda, was completely destroyed, although no people died. You can hear the audio and read an account of the earthquake at Amelia's blog, as well as later reports of private helicopters charging tourists about
3USD $1400 for taking them away from disaster areas.
Outside the city, near the towns of Vara Blanca, Poasito, Cinchona and Fraijanes, landslides have already claimed the lives of two young girls and a family of five, and it is suspected that tomorrow, as day breaks, more deadly victims will be found. Material damage is substantial, as buildings collapsed, and many roads dissapeared in landslides that may have taken with them cars, buses and houses. The earthquake also brought flooding down the river banks as a result of so much dirt and organic matter falling into them. In total, the damage caused by the earthquake, flooding and landslides is still impossible to predict according to the Costa Rican Red Cross.
Video captures from TV have also been uploaded on YouTube by many different users in an attempt to inform many others who don't have access to the television channels where the situation is being reported.
It is expected that tomorrow, as aftershocks continue and more destroyed houses and cars are found, that the victim toll will rise.
EDITED TO ADD:
Cindy Banks, the owner of Peace Lodge and La Paz Waterfall Gardens sent me an email clarifying some of the information regarding the lodge. The lodge was not destroyed, the animals all survived and they hope to be back up and running in a few months. Luckily no lives were lost at their hotel and the worst injury from the quake was a broken ankle. She also mentions that even though they were very lucky, many families lost their homes and family members in the neighboring communities and they are setting up a link for donations for these families at their website.