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Deadly mudslides hit Guatemala day after earthquake

September 22, 2011

GUATEMALA CITY – Mudslides in Guatemala killed one person and left 12 missing on Tuesday, a day after a series of earthquakes hit another region in the impoverished Central American nation, officials said.

The mudslides occurred near the small community of Santa Cruz Barillas, at an altitude of 1,500 meters near the Mexican border, some 400 kilometers north of the capital.

David de León, an emergency official, said four homes were swept away by the mud, with one person confirmed dead and 12 missing, in the latest incident provoked by heavy rains in the region.

Fire officials said they were awaiting delivery of heavy equipment to dig through the mud in search of victims.

In another part of the country, rescue operations were continuing after a magnitude-5.8 quake and two smaller temblors struck an area some 130 km south of the capital, killing at least one person.

Some 1,200 people were being housed in makeshift tents on a football field and a local military base after the quake damaged many structures in the area near Cuilapa.

Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom announced the suspension of classes in schools for the department of Santa Rosa, and emergency officials maintained an orange alert.

Seismologists at the U.S. Geological Survey said the biggest of the three quakes hit Monday at around 12:34 p.m. local time, with its epicenter 52 km southeast of the capital.

It was preceded and followed by smaller, but still sizable temblors.

The quakes were felt as far away as neighboring El Salvador, but there were no reports there of injuries or damage. 

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