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7.2 Magnitude Earthquake Kills At Least 52 In Guatemala

A relative mourns the ten members of the Vasquez family who died in the earthquake in the San Cristobal Cuchu municipality in San Marcos, Guatemala.
Johan Ordonez
/
AFP/Getty Images
A relative mourns the ten members of the Vasquez family who died in the earthquake in the San Cristobal Cuchu municipality in San Marcos, Guatemala.

Guatemalans are picking up the pieces of a massive 7.2 magnitude earthquake that struck the country's Pacific coast on Wednesday.

According to Guatemala's Prensa Libre, the temblor left 52 dead and 22 others are missing.

The BBC reports that this is the strongest quake to hit the country since 1976.

The BBC adds:

"President Otto Perez Molina told the BBC that 22 people were still missing and as many as 10,000 houses may have been rendered uninhabitable.

"Most of the damage was in San Marcos region, near the border with Mexico.

"The president, who visited the affected area on Wednesday, declared three days of mourning."

Prensa Libre posted video showing panic in the streets of San Marcos. They showed images of facades of buildings crumbling onto the streets, and images of doctors scrambling to help the injured.

The paper adds that through the night, the city felt 29 aftershocks that measured between 4.2 and 4.6 on the Richter Scale.

NBC reports the original earthquake was so strong that it was felt in Mexico City.

The earthquake also triggered landslides and left 76,000 without power. NBC adds:

"A Reuters witness in Guatemala City said people were evacuating homes in parts of the capital, and firefighters and rescue workers were on alert. Office workers were also evacuating buildings in Mexico City and in the capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas, across the border from Guatemala.

"'It was really big, I felt quite nauseous," secretary Vanessa Castillo, 32, who was evacuated from her 10th-floor office in Guatemala City, told Reuters.

"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.""

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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