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Earthquake rattles Nicaragua

A strong earthquake damaged dozens of houses in western Nicaragua on Thursday, and authorities said that at least 23 people were injured by falling ceilings, beams and walls in one town.

The 6.1-magnitude quake caused panicked Nicaraguans to run into the streets and callers to local radio stations complained that electricity and water services had been disrupted in their areas.

Apparently hardest hit was the town of Nagarote, along with the communities around it, where more than 100 houses were damaged, said Guillermo Gonzalez, director of the disaster prevention agency. Nagarote is located about 30 miles (50 kilometres) northwest of the capital, Managua.

Gonzalez said that at least 23 people were injured by falling walls, ceilings and other objects. Three of the injured were taken to a Managua hospital.

Health official Enrique Beteta said the three have non-life threatening injuries. "One has trauma in an ankle, the other in a leg and a 16-year-old boy in his lower back after a portion of a wall fell on him," Beteta told popular radio station Radio Ya.

Gonzalez said that two houses were damaged in Managua and landslides had blocked two highways south of the capital.

Authorities suspended classes on Friday in the cities of Leon and Managua.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake struck at 5:27 p.m. local time (23:27 GMT), and was centred about 11 miles (18 kilometres) southeast of the city of Larreynaga. It had a depth of 6.2 miles (10 kilometres).

Nicaraguans reported feeling a strong aftershock minutes later that the USGS said was a 5.1-magnitude quake centred 3 miles (5 kilometres) west of Ciudad Sandino.

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