6.1 magnitude quake, aftershocks shake northwest Nicaragua

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Managua – A strong 6.1 magnitude earthquake and at least four major aftershocks shook northwestern Nicaragua on Thursday night, triggering panic among residents and damaging some homes, officials said.

There were no immediate reports of casualties.

The quake struck at 21:25 (03:25 GMT), centred 17km east of Puerto Morazan near the Honduras border at a depth of 10km, according to the United States Geological Survey.

It was followed by four weaker aftershocks over the course of about an hour, USGS said.

"The quake was felt almost throughout the country," government spokeswoman and First Lady Rosario Murillo said, calling it "unusually strong."

She urged residents to stay calm, warning of the threat of more aftershocks.

As of late Thursday, there had been at least 80 small aftershocks, Murillo said.

Some homes were damaged but there were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries, she said.

The government has activated relief agencies and army civil defense units as a precaution, and suspended classes in the Chinandega and Leon departments in the country's west.

Puerto Morazan is about 125km northwest of the capital Managua.

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