Puerto Rico to open schools after 6.4 quake despite concerns

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) -- Puerto Rico’s government is opening public schools in late January without knowing if they can withstand a big earthquake as concerns grow about weakened infrastructure that is displacing thousands of students.

By Friday, engineers had inspected 561 out of the island’s 856 public schools and found that 9% are unsafe as a result of damage caused by a recent 6.4 magnitude quake. The ongoing inspections, however, are not to determine whether the schools can survive a strong quake, said engineer Carlos Pesquera, whom the governor recently named as a risk mitigation adviser.

Parents, teachers and legislators have said they worry about the safety of buildings as education officials stress that only schools deemed as safe will reopen Jan. 22.

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