Guatemala Death Toll From 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Rises to 52

Guatemala Death Toll From 7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Rises to 52
Rescue personnel stand next to the body of a victim who died in an earthquake in Huehuetenango on November 7, 2012. Photographer: Johan Ordonez/AFP via Getty Images

At least 52 people are dead and 22 are still missing after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake yesterday off Guatemala’s Pacific coast damaged buildings and homes, President Otto Perez Molina said.

“We are continuing to send assistance and resources to people throughout the country who are without electricity, water, had their homes destroyed or are still at risk,” Perez Molina told reporters today in the capital, Guatemala City.

The quake occurred at 10:37 a.m. local time yesterday and shook most of the country for more than 30 seconds. The most severe damage was in the town of San Marcos in northwest Guatemala, where the most casualties occurred as more than 30 homes collapsed and city streets fractured, Perez Molina said.

The president has declared a national red alert for San Marcos through tomorrow and has ordered three days of national mourning. There are at least 760 people in shelters after losing their homes and it is thought that the death toll will continue to rise, he said.

Military and relief organizations are assisting damaged areas and 44 tons of humanitarian aid has been sent to San Marcos and Quetzaltenango in northwest Guatemala. The U.S. and several Central and South American countries have offered to provide assistance and aid, Perez Molina said.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake’s epicenter was 39 miles (63 kilometers) from Suchiate, Chiapas in Mexico and 53 miles from Retalhuleu, Guatemala, at a depth of 26 miles. The quake was the largest recorded in Guatemala since 1976. Seventy aftershocks of between 4.2 and 4.9-magnitude were recorded in Guatemala in the past 24 hours, Perez Molina said.

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