Office workers gather on Paseo de la Reforma avenue in
Mexico City after being evacuated from the Senate building
following an earthquake off the coast of Guatemala.
A strong earthquake off the coast of Guatemala killed at
least 48 people and trapped others under rubble, crushing homes
and cars, destroying roads and forcing evacuations as far away
as Mexico City.
Most of the dead were buried under debris in San Marcos
state, a mountainous region near the Mexican border.
Landslides triggered by the 7.4-magnitude quake blocked
highways and complicated rescue efforts.
It was the strongest earthquake to hit the Central American
nation since 1976, when a 7.5-magnitude quake killed more
than 20,000 people.
President Otto Perez, who confirmed the death toll after
returning to the capital Guatemala City from a lightning trip
to San Marcos, said that as many as 23 people were
unaccounted for, while 153 people were being housed in
"It's very sad to meet people here who are waiting to find
their families who are still buried," Perez said in San
Marcos. "It's really a tragedy and we will do all we can to
help the families that are suffering."
Rescue workers in bright yellow helmets worked through the
night pulling bodies from the rubble-strewn streets of San
Pedro Sacatepequez, San Marcos, as dazed locals looked on,
taking stock of the damage.
"Thank God we're alive," said resident Arnulfo Portillo. "To
be honest, there's quite a few families who have been hit
badly, but we're a tight-knight community and we'll come out
In San Cristobal Cucho, also in San Marcos, all but one of an
11-member family died, buried under rubble, volunteer fireman
Ovidio Fuentes told local radio. Only the 17-year-old son
Local Red Cross chief Carlos Enrique Alvarado said 75 homes
were destroyed in the city of San Marcos alone and
authorities said damage to the prison forced them to transfer
101 inmates to another jail.
Perez, who announced three days of mourning, said Spain and
Venezuela had offered help. Authorities distributed 16,000
emergency rations and mobilised more than 2,000 soldiers to
help with the rescue effort.
The energy ministry said 73,000 people were left without
In Guatemala City, 160km from the quake's epicenter, the
streets filled with office workers forced to evacuate
buildings, although most soon returned to work.
"It was really big. I felt quite nauseous," said Vanessa
Castillo, 32, a secretary who was evacuated from her 10th
floor office in the capital.
Building janitor Jorge Gamboa said: "I was in the bathroom.
When I came out the office was empty and I thought, what's
happening? They didn't even say goodbye."
The epicentre was 42km below the surface, according to the
U.S. Geological Survey.
The quake was felt in El Salvador and more than 1220km away
in Mexico City, where some people also fled offices and
The Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said a small tsunami was
registered on Guatemala's coast, although there were no
reports that it caused any damage.