GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemala’s president said as many as 48 people may have died in an earthquake on Wednesday, while another 100 people may be missing in the southwest of the country.
“We have reports of three dead from the San Marcos hospital that have been confirmed,” President Otto Pérez Molina said.
“Other preliminary information, which has not been confirmed, says the number of dead could rise to around 48 people. But this is preliminary data and we have not confirmed it,” he said.
Another 15 people are believed to be stuck in rubble, the president added.
A firefighter earlier told AFP that about 10 people were found dead in the town of San Pedro Sacatepéquez, some 250 kilometers west of the capital.
“Reports from colleagues in the area indicate that there are around 10 dead,” Sergio Vázquez said in a telephone interview.
The U.S. Geological Survey said the 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck at 1635 GMT some 24 kilometers south of Champerico, Guatemala, and 163 kilometers west-southwest of Guatemala City. The depth was 41.6 kilometers.
A school in San Pedro Sacatepéquez collapsed, injuring 8, including students and teachers, who were transferred to local hospitals.
The quake was felt in most of the country. Social network users confirmed that the quake was felt in Guatemala City, Jalapa, Jutiapa, Alta Verapaz, Quetzaltenango, Suchitepéquez, Zacapa, Escuintla and Quiché.
Falling power lines and damage to houses across the country were also reported, according to the Guatemalan daily La Prensa Libre.
The Pacific Tsnumani Warning Center said there was no tsunami threat.
The quake prompted evacuations as far north as Mexico City, where thousands of people streamed out of buildings.
“We just had an earthquake,” Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard wrote on Twitter. “It was intense in a good part of the city.” One Mexico City metro line was briefly suspended, but Ebrard reported minutes later that the system was running normally.