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Earthquake off Guatemala's coast

A 6.5-magnitude earthquake shook Guatemala's Pacific coastline, causing some homes to collapse in a town near the epicentre but there were no immediate reports of injuries.

The US Geological Survey said the epicentre was three miles south of the small town of Pajapita, near the border with Mexico. It had a depth of 41 miles.

Guatemala's fire department issued a statement saying some poorly built homes were destroyed in the town of Patzicia, located between the epicentre and the capital, Guatemala City.

The Central American nation's natural disaster agency said that at least three uninhabited homes collapsed, and two highways were blocked by landslides.

The quake was felt strongly in Guatemala City, and caused power cuts in some areas, but authorities did not immediately report any damage there.

"People living in Guatemala City's tall buildings were panicked," said Eddy Sanchez, director of Guatemala's National Institute of Seismology.

People ran outside their homes and some motorists stopped their cars in the capital. An aftershock of a lower magnitude further frightened capital-dwellers.

The earthquake was also felt in neighbouring Mexico and El Salvador, but there were no immediate reports of injuries or damage in those countries.

It was one of the strongest in Guatemala since a 7.4-magnitude earthquake last November killed 42 people in the country's west.

That earthquake was the strongest in 36 years and left thousands of people homeless and without electricity or water.

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