Costa Ricans paddled canoes to a Panamanian border town Friday to loot stores while a fire raged out of control because of water shortages caused by an earthquake, officials said.
Nine stores burned down in the central business district of Guabito, about 280 miles northwest of Panama City on the Costa Rican border, said Amilcar Villareal, the fire department spokesmen in nearby Chan-guinola.About 200 Costa Ricans, suffering from shortages caused by Monday's devastating quake, crossed the Sixaloa River in large canoes to sack Guabito town during the fire, then paddled home, Panama's National Civil Protection System reported.
Villareal said in a telephone interview the fire lasted for four hours and was brought under control at 10 a.m. No one was injured.
The quake, registering 7.4 on the Richter scale, killed 89 people - 57 in Costa Rica and 32 in Panama. It injured hundreds and rendered thousands homeless, including 10,000 in Costa Rica.
Crews worked to repair broken water pipes in the Guabito area, but said they did not expect to restore service soon.
"There is little water, there are cracks in the streets and water full of mud and slime is coming into the houses," said Cesar Quintero, a volunteer relief worker in Changuinola, which was heavily damaged.
Officials said they did not have a damage estimate for the Guabito fire, but a correspondent for Radio RPC put the cost at $1 million.
Most communication to the the mountainous area was still by radio because of road damage.
Costa Rica's finance minister, Thelmo Vargas, on Friday estimated earthquake damage to that Central American nation of 3 million people at $600 million.