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Powerful Quake Rocks Guatemala, Killing at Least 3 People

By Mike McDonald

GUATEMALA CITY (Reuters) - A strong earthquake shook the Guatemalan border with Mexico on Monday, killing at least three people, damaging dozens of buildings and triggering landslides.

The magnitude 7.1 quake struck the Guatemalan border region of San Marcos, which was also hit by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in November 2012 that killed 48 people.

Cracks opened up in buildings, there were landslides causing roadblocks, and power lines came down in the area after the early morning quake, authorities said. Asked to confirm reports the quake had claimed three lives, Alejandro Maldonado, director of Guatemalan emergency authority CONRED, said: "Yes, unfortunately."

Luis Rivera, governor of the San Marcos region, said at least 48 homes suffered significant damage in the local town of La Reforma, whose municipal cemetery was also destroyed.

"This quake was pretty strong. Families in the area are really scared because of the whole experience of November 2012. There are houses destroyed," he said.

Raul Hernandez, a Guatemalan fire services spokesman, said two deaths were reported in San Rafael Pie de la Cuesta in San Marcos. He also said the quake had damaged 30 houses.

Twelve people are in hospital receiving treatment and 50 houses were evacuated in the region, which suffered major disruptions to communication, added Sergio Vasquez, another spokesman for fire services.

"The whole San Marcos region is pretty affected," he said.

The quake was centered 22 miles (35 km) west-southwest of the city of Tapachula in the Mexican state of Chiapas at a depth of about 47 miles (75 km) the U.S. Geological Survey said. Authorities in Chiapas said there were no immediate reports of major damage. The quake was also felt in El Salvador.

 

(Reporting by Mike McDonald in Guatemala City and Bill Trott in Washington; Editing by Doina Chiacu and W Simon)

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