At least five killed after 6.9 quake hits Guatemala and Mexico

Several buildings were damaged, and a bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico over the Suchiate river was closed after the tremors struck the region.The quake also caused power outages in several areas of Guatemala.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A resident rides a scooter past a collapsed wall after the earthquake in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala on June 15, 2017.

A strong earthquake of 6.9 magnitude hit southwestern Guatemala near the border with Mexico at around 1:30 am on Wednesday, killing at least five and damaging buildings, including a church and a border bridge, officials said.

It also damaged buildings in the neighbouring southern Mexican state of Chiapas, officials said, but there were no immediate death reports in Mexico.

"The earthquake was felt throughout the national territory and damage assessment has begun," said Julio Sanchez, spokesman for Guatemala's Conred national disaster center.

The earthquake hit 15 km (10 miles) west-northwest of the city of San Marcos, at a relatively deep 111 km (69 miles), the US Geological Survey reported. Quakes get more dangerous as they get shallower.

A number of aftershocks were reported during the day.

Power went off in the Guatemalan departments of Retalhuleu, Quetzaltenango and Suchitepequez, authorities said. A church collapsed in San Sebastian, Retalhuleu, killing a man, emergency services reported.

A woman died in Tacana in the department of San Marcos after her house collapsed on her in the quake, Sanchez said.

Three other people died of heart attacks that Guatemalan authorities said were brought on by the quake.

A bridge connecting Guatemala and Mexico over the Suchiate river was closed because of damage, the Guatemalan government said.

The USGS initially reported the quake, which struck while many residents were asleep, as a magnitude 7.0.

In late 2012, a far shallower 7.4-magnitude quake off the coast of Guatemala near the Mexican border killed at least 48 people and trapped others under ruins.