A strong quake struck northwestern Nicaragua close to the Honduran border Thursday night.
The temblor with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 prompted the government to shut schools in the cities of Leon and Chinandega, presidential adviser on education Salvador Vanegas tweeted.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake's epicenter was 16 miles northeast of Chinandega. The USGS said it had a depth of 6.2 miles and struck late Thursday night.
The earthquake was felt strongly in Nicaragua's capital, Managua, more than 70 miles south of the epicenter, according to The Associated Press. Reports on social media indicated that the quake also shook communities in neighboring countries of El Salvador and Honduras.
The quake forced hospital patients in Chinandega to spend the night in the open on gurneys, La Prensa newspaper reported.
Some residents of the small peninsular community of Punta Venecia fled coastal areas out of fear of a tsunami, the paper added.