Although the October 10, 1986 San Salvador earthquake was only a moderate event of magnitude 5.4 and the recorded ground motions had a relatively short duration, the high recorded peak accelerations caused substantial damage to lifelines. There was significant and widespread damage to buried lifelines. Long-distance telecommunications facilities were reportedly undamaged, but there was substantial loss of local phone service caused by damage to buildings, failures of equipment racks, and loss of emergency power (tilting of batteries). Power generating facilities (hydroelectric and geothermal) that supply electricity to San Salvador are located too far from the city to have been affected by the earthquake. Both 115-kV substations that serve San Salvador experienced a moderate level of damage, consisting mostly of ceramic column circuit breaker failures. As has been observed in past earthquakes, control and instrumentation systems and low-voltage power-supply equipment displayed an ability to withstand high ground accelerations.

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