1972 Nicaragua earthquake

The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake occurred at 12:29:44 a.m. local time (06:29:44 UTC) on December 23 near Managua, the capital of Nicaragua. It had a moment magnitude of 6.3 and a maximum MSK intensity of IX (Destructive). The epicenter was 28 kilometers northeast of the city centre and a depth of about 10 kilometers. The earthquake caused widespread casualties among Managua's residents: 4,000–11,000 were killed, 20,000 were injured and over 300,000 were left homeless.

1972 Nicaragua earthquake
1972 Nicaragua earthquake is located in Central America
1972 Nicaragua earthquake
UTC time1972-12-23 06:29:44
ISC event766571
Local dateDecember 23, 1972
Local time00:29:44
Magnitude6.3 Mw [1]
Depth10 km (6.2 mi) [1]
Epicenter12°11′N 86°13′W / 12.18°N 86.22°WCoordinates: 12°11′N 86°13′W / 12.18°N 86.22°W [1]
Areas affectedNicaragua
Max. intensityIX (Destructive) [2]
Casualties4,000–11,000 [3]
20,000 injured [3]
300,000 displaced [3]

Tectonic setting

A Nicaraguan soldier patrolling against looters in the aftermath of the earthquake

Managua, which lies on the southern shore of Lake Xolotlan, near the western coast of Nicaragua, is situated within an active volcanic zone known as the Central American Volcanic Chain. The city has a long history of volcanic and seismic activity which arise from the relative movements of two crustal plates which intersect near the southwestern border of Central America. The Cocos plate, located east of the East Pacific Rise, is moving northeastward and is slowly being submerged under the Caribbean Plate. The zone of dipping is initiated at the surface of the Middle America Trench, which extends 4 to 5 kilometers deep along the Pacific Coast from Mexico to Costa Rica.[4] But rather than a simple crustal movement between the two plates the earthquake was believed to have been caused by a shallow adjustment to geological pressure at the south western corner of the Caribbean plate.


A hotel destroyed by the quake in Managua's centre

The earthquake severely damaged 27 square kilometres (10 sq mi) and destroyed 13 square kilometres (5.0 sq mi) in the city centre. The majority of the buildings in the central business district sustained significant structural damage including a 19-story building, one 15-story building, approximately 5 buildings that were 7 to 9 stories tall and more than 25 buildings that were from 3 to 6 stories tall. Much of the damage arose from seismic ground movement which occurred within 10–15 seconds of the main shock. The majority of the factories and smaller buildings were severely damaged. Many of the houses and small shops were over 40 years old and constructed using a local method called taquezal (or talquezal], in which the timber framed walls are filled with stone and finished with plaster, covered by roofs of unmortared clay tile. The design is very susceptible to earthquake damage. An estimated 53,000 homes in the city were damaged.[5] The water and electrical power networks were severely damaged and more than a week after the earthquake only 10% of the city had any working water service.

Surface faulting

One of the most significant geological effects of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake quake was surface faulting. Examination of the fault lines indicated a lateral motion moving in a northeasterly direction and aftershock data has revealed at least one of the faults extends from the surface to a depth of 8 to 10 kilometers beneath the city of Managua.


Within an hour after the main shock, two aftershocks, one of magnitude 5.0 and the other 5.2, occurred at 1:18 a.m. and 1:20 a.m.[5]


An office block damaged

Two-thirds of Managua's 1,000,000 residents were displaced and faced food shortage and disease, and dry-season winds worsened the problem with fires created by the disaster.[4] Because of the damaging effects of the earthquake, many of the emergency services in the city were operating at a seriously lower level than normal. The earthquake destroyed all the fire-fighting equipment available, and fires were prevalent in some areas for several days. All four main hospitals, which before the disaster had 1,650 beds, were unserviceable.

The Nicaraguan government appealed for aid, and the government accepted aid from countries like the United States and Mexico and some 25 other countries, worth millions of dollars. Despite this and the magnitude of the devastation, the aid was not distributed well and the ruling Liberal-Conservative Junta, led by President Anastasio Somoza Debayle, was the target of criticism and was accused of stockpiling foreign aid which never reached the victims of the earthquake.[6] It was because of these reports that the Puerto Rican baseball star Roberto Clemente chose to personally accompany the fourth of a number of relief flights he had organized. That flight crashed on December 31, 1972, killing Clemente among others.

Bulldozers shifting the rubble

Another difficulty was that much of the material aid donated was inappropriate for the needs of the affected Nicaraguans, including such items as winter clothes (Managua's climate is tropical) and frozen TV dinners.[7]

It was later revealed that Somoza and his cronies had indeed plundered much of the foreign aid in order to enrich themselves at the expense of the people and of those businessmen who didn't support Somoza. Opposition to the regime, which had begun to surface before the earthquake, increased quickly among the lower classes and even among members of the upper and middle classes fed up with Somoza's corruption. This grew into a revolt that became the Nicaraguan Revolution, in which Somoza was overthrown in 1979.

Because of the extent of the damage, the faulty underground terrain, the misappropriation of aid, and the subsequent revolution and 11-year civil war, much of the city centre remained ruined for almost 20 years. Reconstruction only began in earnest in the 1990s.


The earthquake changed the face of Managua during its decades of recovery. The city centre is no longer clearly defined, as buildings have been constructed away from the city centre. During the massive evacuations, the displaced residents set up camp around water resources and areas that remained somewhat unaffected. Although Managua remains Central America's second largest capital and metropolitan area, the bulk of its residents reside in barrios or neighborhoods that are of considerable distance from the city centre. Today, in place of the large buildings that used to exist in the centre, the government set up the "Plaza de la Fe" (Faith Square) in honor of Pope John Paul II.

See also


  1. ^ a b c ISC (2017), ISC-GEM Global Instrumental Earthquake Catalogue (1900–2013), Version 4.0, International Seismological Centre
  2. ^ Ambraseys, N. N.; Adams, R. D. (2000), The Seismicity of Central America – A Descriptive Catalogue 1898–1995, Imperial College Press, p. 271, doi:10.1142/9781848160118_0001, ISBN 978-1860942440
  3. ^ a b c USGS (September 4, 2009), PAGER-CAT Earthquake Catalog, Version 2008_06.1, United States Geological Survey
  4. ^ a b Earthquake Information Bulletin, September–October 1973, Volume 5, Number 5., Retrieved on June 2, 2008
  5. ^ a b Earthquake Hazards Program Archived 2008-06-02 at the Wayback Machine USGS, Retrieved on June 2, 2008
  6. ^ "1972: Earthquake wreaks devastation in Nicaragua". BBC. 1972-12-23. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  7. ^ Cornell, James C. (1982), The Great International Disaster Book (3rd ed.), Charles Scribner's Sons.

External links

Media related to 1972 Nicaragua earthquake at Wikimedia Commons

 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Geological Survey document: "Historic Earthquakes".

1972 Major League Baseball season

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1972 in baseball

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1973 Caribbean Series

The sixteenth edition of the Caribbean Series (Serie del Caribe) was played in 1973. It was held from February 1 through February 6 with the champions teams from Dominican Republic (Tigres del Licey), Mexico (Yaquis de Obregón), Puerto Rico (Cangrejeros de Santurce) and Venezuela (Leones del Caracas). The format consisted of 12 games, each team facing the other teams twice, and the games were played at UCV Stadium in Caracas, Venezuela. The Series was played to honor the memory of Roberto Clemente, who died on December 31, 1972, during a humanitarian mission to assist victims of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake.

Bianca Jagger

Bianca Jagger (born Blanca Pérez-Mora Macías; 2 May 1945) is a Nicaraguan social and human rights advocate and a former actress. Jagger currently serves as a Council of Europe goodwill ambassador, founder and chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, member of the Executive Director's Leadership Council of Amnesty International USA, and a trustee of the Amazon Charitable Trust.She was married to Mick Jagger, lead singer of the Rolling Stones.

Dick Clark (architect)

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Disasters Emergency Committee

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El Centro de la Raza

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Food for the Hungry

Food for the Hungry (also known as FH) is a Christian international relief, development, and advocacy organization with operations in more than 20 countries. Food for the Hungry was founded in 1971 by Dr. Larry Ward. Food for the Hungry's stated mission for long-term development is to graduate communities of extreme poverty within 10-15 years. The organization does this by going to some of the hardest places with an exit strategy, empowering local leaders and walking "together" with them, as they lead their communities into being thriving, self-sustainable places to live. The organization also works in disaster relief and humanitarian response, including working with the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and Syrian refugees in Lebanon.

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Instituto Loyola

Instituto Loyola is a Jesuit elementary and high school located in Managua, Nicaragua. It was founded in 1946 as an all-boys elementary school. It accepts students of other faiths who attend the programmed religious activities. The school shares the mission of the Society of Jesus, "the service of faith and promotion of justice."

Islam in Nicaragua

According to 2007 statistics released by the U.S. Department of State concerning Islam in Nicaragua, there are approximately 1,200 to 1,500 Muslims, mostly Sunnis who are resident aliens or naturalized citizens from Palestine, Libya, and Iran or natural-born Nicaraguan citizens born to both of the two groups. The Islamic Cultural Center in Managua serves as the primary salaat (prayer) center for Muslims in the city, with approximately 320 men attending on a regular basis. Muslims from Granada, Masaya, Leon, and Chinandega also travel to the Managua center for Friday prayers. Granada, Masaya, and Leon have smaller prayer centers in the homes of prominent local Muslims. In May 2007 the Sunni leader of the Managua prayer center was dismissed, due to the increase in Iranian influence in the Muslim community and was to be replaced by a Shi'a religious leader. By the end of the reporting period (May 2007) the Shi'a leader had not been identified.


Managua (Spanish pronunciation: [maˈnaɣwa]) is the capital and largest city of Nicaragua, and the center of an eponymous department. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Managua, it had an estimated population 1,042,641 in 2016 within the city's administrative limits and a population of 1,401,687 in the metropolitan area, which additionally includes the municipalities of Ciudad Sandino, El Crucero, Nindirí, Ticuantepe and Tipitapa.The city was declared the national capital in 1852. Previously, the capital alternated between the cities of León and Granada. The 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and years of civil war in the 1980s severely disrupted and stunted Managua's growth. It was not until the mid-1990s that Managua began to see a resurgence.Managua's population is composed predominantly of mestizos and whites who are mainly of Spanish descent, with a minority being of French, Jewish Nicaraguan, German Nicaraguan, Italian, Russian and Turkish descent.

Managua earthquake

Managua earthquake may refer to:

1931 Nicaragua earthquake

1972 Nicaragua earthquake

2014 Nicaragua earthquake

Nicaragua earthquake

Nicaragua earthquake may refer to:

1931 Nicaragua earthquake

1972 Nicaragua earthquake

1992 Nicaragua earthquake

Old Cathedral of Managua

The Old Cathedral of Managua, known as the Catedral de Santiago (St. James' Cathedral) in Spanish, is a cathedral in Managua, Nicaragua.

The cathedral was designed by Belgian architects. Its neoclassical design was said to have been inspired by the look of the church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris, France. Construction began in 1928 and lasted until 1938. Belgian engineer Pablo Dambach oversaw the construction of the cathedral. The iron that was used to frame the core of the cathedral was shipped directly from Belgium.The cathedral survived the 1931 Nicaragua earthquake, as only its iron core had been erected at the time. Four decades later, the cathedral was heavily damaged during the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake, and the building was subsequently condemned though it was not demolished. The closing of the cathedral eventually led to the construction of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, also known as the New Cathedral of Managua, which was completed in 1993. Since that time, the restoration of the Old Cathedral has appeared to be possible.The Old Cathedral's tower clock, which was damaged during the Contra Civil War of the 1980s, was later removed during renovations to the cathedral in the late 1990s. The clock is now housed at the National Palace of Culture.

Puerto Rico Air National Guard

The Puerto Rico Air National Guard (PR ANG) —Spanish: Guardia Nacional Aérea de Puerto Rico— is the air force militia of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated territory of the United States of America. It is, along with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard and the Puerto Rico State Guard, an element of the Puerto Rico National Guard. After beginning as four units, the PRANG expanded to 11 units by the 1980s, including the 1956th Tactics Combat Group, the 140th Radar Squadron and others.As commonwealth militia units, the units in the Puerto Rico Air National Guard are not in the normal United States Air Force chain of command. They are under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Puerto Rico though the office of the Puerto Rico Adjutant General unless they are federalized by order of the President of the United States. The Puerto Rico Air National Guard is headquartered at San Juan commanded by BG Wayne Zimmet. The 156th Airlift Wing at Muñiz Air National Guard Base, Carolina, and its commander is Col Jose A. (Andy) Sanchez.

Roberto Clemente Stadium (Nicaragua)

Roberto Clemente Stadium is a baseball stadium in Masaya, Nicaragua. It is named after Puerto Rican baseball legend Roberto Clemente, who died on a plane crash that was delivering aid to the victims of the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake.

Roberto Clemente State Park

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Silvia Poll

Sylvia Poll Ahrens (born September 24, 1970) in Managua, Nicaragua) is an Olympic and National Record holding swimmer from Costa Rica. At the 1988 Olympics, she won Costa Rica's first Olympic medal, when she garnered the silver in the women's 200 free. As of 2009, she and her younger sister Claudia are Costa Rica's only Olympic medalists. Sylvia also swam for Costa Rica at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

She also won a total number of 8 medals at the 1987 Pan American Games; and 2 of her times from those Games still stand as Costa Rican Records in 2009 (100 free and 100 back).

Poll was born in Managua, Nicaragua. Her parents were Germans and they settled in Nicaragua where Sylvia and her younger sister Claudia were born. After the 1972 Nicaragua earthquake and rising political tensions, Sylvia's parents decided to move south to Costa Rica.

Sylvia Poll is a famous backstroker and freestyle swimmer for Costa Rica, who won the silver medal in the Swimming at the 1988 Summer Olympics Women's 200 meter freestyle at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Her silver medal was the first medal ever for a Costa Rican athlete.

At the 1986 Central American and Caribbean Games she set the Games Records in the women's 200 and 400 frees (2:02.80 and 4:17.98). Both records would last 20 years, until her sister Claudia bettered the times at the 2006 Games. Also at the '86 CACs, Silvia set the Games Record in the 100 m and 200 m backstroke (1:04.43, 2:19.32) that also stood until 2006.

Sylvia Poll is now a member of the ‘Champions for Peace’ club, a group of 54 famous elite athletes committed to serving peace in the world through sport, created by Peace and Sport, a Monaco-based international organization.

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