An earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala on Wednesday morning, killing up to 15 people and leaving 100 missing.
The quake was centered about 15 miles off the coastal town of Champerico and about 100 miles southwest of Guatemala City, but it shook buildings as far away as Mexico City, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The magnitude-7.4 quake struck about 20 miles below the earth’s surface.
The mayor of Mexico City, Marcelo Ebrard, said no serious damage or injuries had been reported in the city, although many people left their offices during the earthquake to go home.
At a news conference, Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina claimed that not all the reported deaths had been confirmed, but there were reports that some 30 residences collapsed in the town of San Marcos, near the northwestern border with Mexico. San Marcos, where most of the catastrophe was reported, has not experienced an earthquake of this magnitude since a1976 trembler that killed 23,000 people.
In a radio interview, Pérez Molina urged Guatemalans to evacuate tall buildings as an emergency measure while the country is on its highest level of disaster alert.
"I've been in Guatemala for almost two years. I am used to earthquakes. This was a lot more severe, a lot more shaky," said Peace Corps volunteer Adam Baker Carmel.
June 1: This AQ-Efecto Naím segment looks at sustainable cities in the hemisphere.