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Guatemala Earthquake Kills Dozens

  • VOA News

Two men walk past damaged houses after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck on the streets of San Marcos, about 250 km south of Guatemala City, November 8, 2012.

Two men walk past damaged houses after a 7.4-magnitude earthquake struck on the streets of San Marcos, about 250 km south of Guatemala City, November 8, 2012.

Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina says the death toll from an earthquake Wednesday has risen to 52 and that the figure is likely to rise.

"The number of fatal victims has continued rising and is now at 52 people. There are also 22 people missing," he said.

Perez said Thursday he expects rescuers to find more bodies as they dig through collapsed buildings.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 7.4 magnitude earthquake was centered about 45 kilometers off Guatemala's Pacific coast, about 160 kilometers southwest of Guatemala City. The state of San Marcos, a mountainous region near the Mexican border, was hardest hit. The earthquake was felt as far away as Mexico City and parts of El Salvador.

In New York, a United Nations spokesperson says Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is saddened by the deaths in Guatemala and that the U.N. is ready to help with relief efforts.

One resident, Jesus Ramirez Castillo, says he lost family members when their home collapsed around them. "I ran out to look for them. When I saw they weren't there I went back (inside the house) and I tried to pull my mother from where she was standing, and when I tried to pull her away the wall collapsed on top of us. My mother, my sister and my seven-month-old niece ended up under the wall, and I lost my leg," he said.

The U.S. State Department says the embassy in Guatemala City has sent $50,000 in immediate relief, including clean water and blankets.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.
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