Guatemala earthquake leaves five dead

Collapsing buildings and heart attacks kill five as 6.9-magnitude earthquake hits Guatemala and southern Mexico.

    Authorities reported moderate damage to homes, power cuts and blocked highways [Reuters]
    Authorities reported moderate damage to homes, power cuts and blocked highways [Reuters]

    At least five people have been killed in a 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck in western Guatemala near the border with Mexico, according to Guatemalan authorities.

    Wednesday's deaths included a woman in the city of San Marcos who was killed by a falling wall and a homeless man in the town of San Sebastian Retalhueleu who was struck by the collapse of part of a church, AP news agency said. Both locations were close to the epicentre.

    Three women in different departments died from heart attacks attributed to fright caused by the pre-dawn quake. At least seven other people were wounded.

    Various buildings made of mud and straw collapsed as a result of the earthquake [Reuters]

    The earthquake hit 15km northwest of San Marcos, around 1:30am at a relatively deep 111km, the US Geological Survey reported. The shallower the earthquake, the more dangerous it can be.

    Authorities reported moderate damage to homes, power cuts in some departments, and some landslides that blocked highways.

    Video footage aired by rescue teams showed collapsed homes in western Guatemala, especially ones made of mud and straw in the poor Central American country.

    "We greatly mourn the loss of lives," President Jimmy Morales said.

    No tsunami warning

    The mountainous region is sparsely populated with communities scattered around the base of the dormant Tajumulco volcano. Most residents are small-scale farmers or run small businesses.

    Officials said classes in the area would be cancelled on Wednesday to allow school buildings to be inspected.

    The earthquake also rattled the Guatemalan capital, waking residents but without causing damage there.

    Video footage aired by rescue teams showed collapsed homes in western Guatemala [Reuters]

    There was no tsunami warning after the earthquake.

    In the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas, 11 people were treated for injuries. Twenty houses and five schools were damaged, state officials said.  Local Civil Protection authorities said the quake was felt throughout the state.

    Guatemala is in a risk zone for tremors, located where the Caribbean Cocos tectonic plates converge with North America's tectonic plates.

    San Marcos was hit by earthquakes in 2012 and 2014 that left dozens dead.

    SOURCE: News agencies


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