A powerful earthquake in Guatemala Wednesday killed at least 48 and injured many others while several others are feared trapped under the rubble of buildings.
The 7.4-magnitude tremor struck the state of San Marcos bordering Mexico and the tremors were felt as far as Mexico City. Rescue operations were continuing to save the people trapped under the debris while the landslides and power outages triggered by the massive quake hindered the operations.
Massive evacuations were ordered from the affected area as the tremor was followed by at least a dozen of aftershocks.
According to the director of Guatemala's Seismological Institute, Eddy Sanchez, this has been the biggest tremor to hit the Central American country since 1976, the BBC has reported. More than 20,000 people were killed in a 7.5-magnitude earthquake in 1976.
President Otto Perez Molina, who toured the affected areas, confirmed the number of casualties and said: “40 deaths had been confirmed in San Marcos province and another eight in neighboring Quetzaltenango,” BBC report said.
"It's very sad to meet people here who are waiting to find their families who are still buried. It's really a tragedy and we will do all we can to help the families that are suffering," he said.
At San Cristobal Cucho in San Marcos, all but one of an eleven member-family died when their house collapsed.
"Thank God, we're alive," said resident Arnulfo Portillo. "To be honest, there's quite a few families who have been hit badly, but we're a tight-knight community and we'll come out on top," Reuters reported Portillo as saying.
According to the local officials, about 75 houses were destroyed in the city of San Marcos and 14 others in the city of Quetzaltenango.
The president has announced three days of mourning in the country.
People fled from offices and houses across the region as tremors were felt at a distance of 760 miles. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the epicenter of the quake was 42 km below the surface.
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