The Guatemalan government and local Red Cross society have launched immediate response plans following a 7.4-magnitude earthquake off the coast of Champerico along the Pacific Ocean.
The earthquake, which hit the country Wednesday (Nov. 7), has left up to 48 people dead, 150 injured and at least a hundred people missing, according to initial reports from Guatemalan authorities and media outlets. Affected areas, particularly the states of San Marcos and Quetzaltenango, also suffered severe damage to infrastructure, especially houses and roads. In San Marcos, the governor said most government buildings were almost completely reduced to rubble, Reuters reports.
The Guatemalan Red Cross has mobilized search and rescue operations and is providing basic pre-hospital health care and psychological support. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, meanwhile, deployed two members of its Pan-American Disaster Response Unit to support needs assessments.
The Guatemalan government has yet to appeal for international assistance. Its own emergency response operations are ongoing. Authorities have started distributing 16,000 emergency rations, according to Reuters, citing Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina.
According to Perez Molina, the earthquake is the strongest to hit the country since the 7.5-magnitude earthquake in 1976 that killed 23,000 people. The country, fortunately, escaped a similar extent of damage, he noted, according to CNN.
Wednesday’s quake was reportedly felt throughout Central America and is the second to hit the region in two months. Costa Rica was shaken by a 7.6-magnitude earthquake in September.
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