Belfast Telegraph

Monday 28 July 2014

Guatemala quakes kill at least one

Residents examine their damaged house after an earthquake in Cuilapa, Guatemala (AP)

Four earthquakes have struck the south-eastern part of Guatemala in less than two hours, causing at least one death, authorities said. At least three people were reported missing.

President Alvaro Colom urged calm after the quakes were felt across much of the Central American country, the largest a 5.8 magnitude. All were centred in an area about 30 miles south-east of the capital, Guatemala City, according to the US Geological Survey.

"There is no reason to think there will be anything bigger,"Mr Colom said at a news conference.

He said all rescue forces and government agencies had been activated to deal with the aftermath.

A 38-year-old woman died when a wall collapsed in her house in Cuilapa, the epicentre and one of the areas most effected, said Mariano Laz, spokesman for the local Volunteer Fire Department.

Mr Colom said there were at least three people missing and others injured, though he did not say how many or in what locations.

Besides Cuilapa, the areas of Santa Maria Inhuatan and Oratorio were most affected, Guatemala's seismology institute said. Public buildings were evacuated and school classes cancelled.

The quakes also caused landslides along the main highway to El Salvador, and at least one car was buried, authorities said.

The largest quake hit about 12.34pm local time, half an hour after a 4.8-magnitude quake. Another 4.8-magnitude quake hit at about 1.20pm. A fourth of 4.5-magnitude was reported in an area south of the others at 2.30pm.

The depths of the quakes varied from 23 miles to 38 miles.

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