Dozens killed in Guatemala earthquake

Quake felt in Mexico City

A powerful earthquake off the coast of Guatemala on Wednesday sent debris crashing down onto cars, collapsed roads and killed dozens in the Central American nation, officials said.

About 100 people were reported missing, 15 were reported trapped under rubble and the death toll could rise, President Otto Perez Molina said, citing unconfirmed preliminary reports. The country's disaster relief agency said Wednesday that at least 30 people were killed.

Residents felt the 7.4-magnitude quake throughout Central America and as far north as Mexico City. Its epicenter was about 15 miles off of the western coastal town of Champerico, at a depth of 26 miles.

It was the strongest quake to hit Guatemala since 1976, the president told reporters, when a 7.5-magnitude quake killed 23,000 people.

"Fortunately, the damage that we have is not at the same level," Perez Molina said Wednesday.

Roads collapsed in multiple locations around the Pacific coastal region of Guatemala, Perez Molina said.

Photos on the Facebook page of the nation's disaster relief agency showed rubble crushing cars and damage to the ceiling at a school in the department of San Marcos.

There were reports of homes and schools destroyed in western Guatemala, Perez Molina told CNN en Español. Many people fled buildings when the tremor first hit.

Some 125,000 people were without power in his country because of the quake.

It was fortunate that the school year in Guatemala had recently come to end, so that no children were inside the school buildings that were damaged, Perez Molina said.

In Guatemala City, 140 miles away from the quake's epicenter, the temblor made the desk and printer sway side to side in Fernando McDonald's home office.

McDonald, who shared a video of the quake with CNN's iReport, described the quake as "strong and long."

Fearing powerful aftershocks, the government issued a "red alert" that warns people to take precautions, such as evacuating tall buildings. The alert stretches along the country's entire Pacific coast.


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