by Staff Writers
Palenque, Mexico (AFP) July 07, 2014
A strong 6.9-magnitude earthquake rocked southern Mexico and Guatemala on Monday killing at least three people -- including a newborn baby at a hospital -- and injuring dozens.
The quake, initially measured at a magnitude of 7.1, struck the Pacific coast of Mexico's Chiapas state at about 1124 GMT at a depth of 60 kilometers (37 miles), the US Geological Survey said.
The epicenter was just two kilometers from the Mexican town of Puerto Madero, and 200 kilometers from Guatemala City.
About 10 minor aftershocks rattled the region, causing more panic and triggering landslides, and authorities warned the toll of dead and injured could rise as the scale of the tragedy became clear.
Two of the dead were in Mexico and a baby died in a hospital in Guatemala's western border state of San Marcos when part of a ceiling caved in, President Otto Perez told reporters.
Perez added that 35 people had been injured, two of them critically, and 70 homes had been reported damaged, half of them beyond repair.
In the Guatemalan village of San Pedro Sacatepequez, a shaken Manuel Mendez stood in front of the ruins of the house he had built with $125,000 in savings from a decade of work in the United States.
"I built this for my family, my children," the 35-year-old immigrant told AFP. "I have to be strong."
- Poorest hit -
In Mexico, a 51-year-old man died in the town of Huixtla, near the border with Guatemala, after a wall fell on him at his home, the Chiapas state civil protection department said.
A 74-year-old man perished in Mapastepec while four others were hurt in the town of 44,000, none of them seriously, spokesman Jose Manuel Aragon told AFP.
Authorities were assessing damage in other areas of Chiapas, one of the poorest states in Mexico.
"It is possible that the number of injured could rise," Aragon said.
Buildings and highways were cracked, and mountain roads collapsed, Mexican authorities said. At the airport in Tapachula, ceilings caved in but flights were still operating.
President Perez and his Mexican counterpart Enrique Pena Nieto met as previously scheduled to discuss immigration issues. The pair had been expected to discuss the quake.
Tremors could be felt hundreds of miles away in Mexico City, where no damage or injuries were reported, according to Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera.
The quake was also felt in El Salvador.
Mexico is prone to seismic activity, with earthquakes occurring most often along the Pacific coast.
A series of strong quakes hit the country two months ago, with a 6.4-magnitude one on May 8 felt in the capital and causing a bridge to collapse in Guerrero, but sparing the country from major damage or injuries.
Western Guatemala was rocked by a 7.4-magnitude earthquake in November 2012. Forty-four people were killed.
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