Early in the morning on Monday, July 7th, a powerful earthquake hit southern Mexico and Central America, killing at least three people and damaging dozens of buildings in Guatemala. The 6.9 quake was felt as far north as Mexico City, through central Guatemala and as far south as El Salvador. The Pacific Coast of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas was considered to be the epicenter of the quake at about 40 miles below the surface, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The earthquake hit at 6:23 a.m. local time.
Local firefighters spokesman Raul Hernandez says at least two people were killed in the Guatemalan town of San Marcos. Western Guatemala also suffered power failures from the quake. The civil defense office in the Mexican state of Chiapas reported on its Twitter account that one man had been killed in Huixtla by a collapsed wall. In a press conference after the quake, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina claimed that the only official confirmed death was that of a newborn in a San Marcos hospital; reports of more injuries and deaths are still being processed.
Much of the damage from the 6.9-magnitude quake was reported in the Guatemalan border region of San Marcos, where it downed power lines, cracked buildings and triggered landslides that blocked roads. “With the reports we have so far, we can say this quake has caused moderate damage. It’s not light damage,” said Molina.
Thirty-three people were severely hurt; many of them sustained head injuries, and 41 houses suffered massive amounts of damage, according to reports from local officials. A further 39 houses suffered lighter damage, and 36 people in the municipality of San Sebastian Huehuetenango were evacuated. Although these kinds of large-scale earthquakes are impossible to predict and prepare for, local officials might consider investing in safety precautions to prevent as many injuries and fatalities in the future.