San Salvador, May 7: A swarm of earthquakes shook southern El Salvador on Monday, damaging dozens of homes, but there were no immediate reports of serious injuries or deaths.
The US Geological Survey said at least nine quakes of magnitude 4.3 or greater struck the region beginning in the morning, including three of magnitude 5.2 to 5.6.
The Central American nation's civil defense agency posted photos online of damaged roofs and rock slides. It said at least 75 homes had damage and three were destroyed. Civil defense director Jorge Melendez said one of the quakes unleashed slides on a highway leading to Playa El Cuco, one of the most visited tourist beaches in the area.
USGS geophysicist Don Blakeman said the earlier quakes were likely foreshocks to the magnitude 5.6 event, which hit just after 1 p.m. local time. Its epicentre was located offshore in the Pacific, about 12 kilometers from the town of Intipuca, at a depth of 10 kilometers.
Seismic activity is common in Central America, where tectonic plates meet, and Blakeman said today's shakes were "not really anything out of the ordinary."
"Occasionally you do see these kinds of swarms," he said.
"We see swarms of small earthquakes in lots of places. That's for instance very typical in Yellowstone, and that sort of thing. But these are pretty good size for sure," he added.
The area affected is near El Salvador's border with Honduras. The larger quakes were also felt in the capital, San Salvador, about 150 kilometers to the west, but the local Red Cross said there were no reports of damage or injuries there.