Photo from the 2015 event

Traffic congestion (presas in Spanish) will be more than usual this morning in downtown San Jose with the planned earthquake drill in the capital city that involves 60,000 people and 43 public and private institutions.

Starting at 10:00 am, the drill (simulacro in Spanish) simulates a 6.5 magnitude earthquake with its epicenter located in Alajuelita, on the south side of San Jose, at a depth of 7 kms,  that would potentially principally affect Alajuelita (of course), San Jose, Escazu, Aserri, Desamparados and Santa Ana.

The objective of the drill is to detect aspects that should be improved in the future in the event of a real emergency.

In total, 132 buildings will be evacuated.

Among the buildings to be evacuated and then first responders moving in to evaluate the buildings are the Legislative Assembly; on Avenida Segunda, the CCSS main offices, the Ministerio de Hacienda and Teatro Nacional; the Poder Judicial (Court buildings); and the Museo Nacional, among others.

A number of schools and hospitals will also take part in the drill.

The event, organized by the Commission of National Emergencies (CNE) and the San Jose Municipal Emergency Committee, is expected to end by 11:30 am, when some 25,000 employees and the estimated 35,000 users of services, will go back to their normal activity. However, the damage assessment and analysis by the authorities could be extended to 2 pm.

Photo from the 2015 drill of the simulated emergency inside the Banco de Costa Rica (BCR) building in downtown San Jose

What to do during the drill?

Don’t be alarmed by the sounds of sirens and alarms going off and the large number of fire fighters and their trucks, paramedics, ambulances, police, and others responding to the (simulated) emergency. The evacuation teams will lead you safely out of the buildings.

Make sure not block exits to allow the greater number of people to move to safe areas.

Each participating institution will activate its own plan, which includes the (simulated) transfer of injured persons in stretchers.


On September 3, 2015, authorities carried out a similar mock tremor in San José. On that occasion, there were criticisms from some people, but the results of the exercise was acceptable.

At that time the evacuation, that also mobilized 60,000 people in 96 buildings, was done in the expected time of between four and 10 minutes.





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