Following a major earthquake that has reportedly killed at least 34 people, Chabad-Lubavitch of Costa Rica is filtering through accounts of casualties centered in a popular tourist area northwest of the capital of S. Jose. Rabbi Hershel Spalter, who has offered the center’s assistance to emergency crews, reports that impact to the country’s Jewish community has been minimal.

Several concerned parents from Israel have phoned Spalter to check in on their backpacking children, but the rabbi says that he was unaware of any Israelis in the affected area at the time of the Thursday afternoon 6.1-magnitude tremblor.

“A member of my congregation said that his daughter had to be airlifted out from the area on Friday,” reports Spalter. “We are doing everything that we can for her family.


“On Shabbat, we heard that around 24 people had been killed, and the number seems to be growing as rescuers get access to the area,” he continues. “In S. Jose, we felt the tremors and the aftershocks, but we are okay. The Chabad House, thank G‑d, has not been damaged.”

According to Red Cross official Milton Chaverri, more than 1,200 people have been stranded, without a way to get out of towns or homes. Another 1,000 people were living in shelters.

An eyewitness description on CNN’s Web site offers a graphic portrayal of the destruction: “I saw how the earth moved and how it took my family, my aunt, my cousin, and her babies. It was very hard, because I wanted to save them, but I couldn’t.”

“Our prayers are with all of the victims and their families at this difficult time,” says Spalter.