A strong earthquake off the coast of Guatemala has killed at least 48 people, crushing homes and forcing evacuations as far away as Mexico City.
The 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit at 10.35am local time (5.35am NZT). Most of the dead were buried under rubble in the mountainous state of San Marcos, near the Mexican border.
Landslides caused by the quake blocked highways and complicated rescue efforts in the area.
President Otto Perez, who confirmed the death toll after returning to the capital Guatemala City from a lightning trip to San Marcos, said that as many as 23 people were unaccounted for, while 153 people were being housed in emergency shelters.
“It’s very sad to meet people here who are waiting to find their families who are still buried,” Perez said in San Marcos city .”It’s really a tragedy and we will do all we can to help the families that are suffering.” New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Mfat) said 19 New Zealanders were registered with the ministry as being in Guatemala.
“The New Zealand Embassy in Mexico (accredited to Guatemala) is making contact with registered New Zealanders in Guatemala. There have been no requests for assistance to date,” a spokesperson said.