Sitting in the departure lounge at Palm Springs International Airport, I watched mesmerized as CNN depicted images of the 6.2 Richter earthquake that struck Costa Rica on January 08. Fascination turned to horror and sorrow as the extent of the damage emerged. As I type this on Monday evening, at least 19 people have been confirmed killed. Another 40 people are missing. The death toll will certainly rise.
Most of the deaths were at Varablanca, a mountain hamlet nestled in the saddle between Poas and Barva volcanoes. The earthquake – the largest to strike Costa Rica since a 6.1 Richter quake claimed 40 lives in 1992 – had its epicenter at Varablanca, just east of Poas Volcano National Park. Most of the deaths were caused by landslides, which destroyed roads and caused about 200 tourists to be trapped at La Paz Waterfall Gardens, which sustained considerable damage. My friend, Cindy Banks (owner, with her husband Lee, of La Paz) says that no-one was killed at La Paz and that they hope to have the attraction and associated Peace Lodge open again within months. Alas, the nearby village of Cinchona suffered horrific damage and has been rendered uninhabitable.
Meanwhile, President Oscar Arias declared a state of emergency.
My heart goes out to everyone who has suffered damage, injury, or the loss of a loved one.