BOULDER, Colo. -- A heavy earthquake was reported early today by the National Earthquake Center and was believed to have caused heavy damage to Managua, Nicaragua. Communications with the city were cut off.
The temblor registered 6.5 on the Richter scale, the earth, quake center said. The exact epicenter of the earthquake was not determined, but Carl Stover, a geophyslclst said it was "large enough to cause damage if it was in a populated area."
In Washington, a spokesman for the State Department said "We have been in touch with our people (department employes) and the embassy has been effectively destroyed. It's been leveled."
The department spokesman was asked whether any American personnel were injured and replied "It's very possible, but we're still checking."
Managua, which was occupied between 1912 and 1933 by U.S. Marines, was almost completely destroyed by earthquake and fire on March 31, 1931.
The Nlcaraguan consul general in Miami, Luis de Bayle, "We know very little, only from what we are getting from ham radio operators in Miami and a captain for Lanica airlines. We understand one or two buildings are destroyed and there are some fires In the city."
De Bayle reported power in Managua apparently was cut off.
A ham radio operator in Henderson, Tex., quoted a State Department employe, Charles Murphy, in Managua, Nlcaragua, as saying the U.S. Embassy and two hospitals there were leveled. Murphy, who was transmitting from a suburb 14 miles from downtown Managua, quoted U.S. Ambassador Turner B. Shelton as saying there was heavy damage throughout the city.
Telephone operators in Mexico City and New York reported circuits to Managua were out of order and there might be delays of up to four hours in communicating with the city.
Stover said the earthquake center's computer had located the epicenter of the earthquake in Costa Rica, but the precise location could not be pinpointed until at least one more seismological station reported. He said the preliminary estimate of the epicenter could be off by 300 to 400 miles.