An alarm blared throughout downtown San José. Users flooded Twitter with the hashtag #TemblorCR. And throughout Costa Rica, more than a million people evacuated homes, schools and offices for designated meeting points.
A major earthquake didn’t shake Costa Rica on Monday morning, but the country acted as if it had.
The National Emergency Commission (CNE) estimates more than a million people participated in Costa Rica’s first-ever national earthquake drill, or simulacro.
At an 11 a.m. press conference, CNE director Alexander Solis said initial figures show 1,175,000 people evacuated as part of the drill. The organization will further evaluate participation to determine which communities may need targeted outreach, Solis said.
The event was meant to help Costa Rica prepare for future emergencies during which an evacuation may be necessary. According to CNE, “it tests our ability to react, evacuate people and go to a safe place.”
The drill hoped to “raise awareness among the Costa Rican population about the importance of identifying evacuation routes or exits and safe meeting points wherever they are,” per CNE.
Costa Rica experiences more than 350 earthquakes each month, or about 12 each day, according to CNE. While the majority are barely perceptible, others have been deadly.
Now, CNE hopes Costa Rica is better-prepared for the next big quake.