Moderate 6.5 earthquake strikes off Nicaragua

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Nicaragua on Saturday, rattling buildings but causing only minor damage.

The earthquake struck at 11:34 am (1734 GMT), 90 kilometers (55 miles) west of the capital Managua in the Pacific at a depth of 35 kilometers (21.7 miles), the US Geological Survey said.

Nicaragua said it was followed by two aftershocks measuring 5.0 and 5.3.

The quake rocked coastal cities and was felt in the capital, but there were no immediate reports of casualties or damage.

Seismologist Angelica Munoz said the quake was powerful and felt almost throughout the country, and there could be more aftershocks.

In the city of Leon, 90 km northwest of Managua, the dome of a church was damaged. In the capital people said objects fell to the ground. Cell phone service and Internet access were knocked out for a few minutes.

The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was no threat of a destructive widespread tsunami, but there could be smaller localized ones.

A 6.2-magnitude earthquake in Managua on December 23, 1972, killed 5,000 people and left more than a quarter million homeless.