GUATEMALA CITY – Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales says two people died in a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in western Guatemala near the border with Mexico on Wednesday.
The dead included a woman in the city of Quetzaltenango and a homeless man in the town of San Sebastián Retalhueleu, both close to the quake’s epicenter.
The pre-dawn quake caused moderate damage to homes, triggered some landslides across highways and injured at least five people.
“We greatly mourn the loss of lives,” Morales said.
The U.S. Geological Survey reported the tremor was centered 5 miles southwest of Tajumulco, Guatemala about 69 miles below the surface.
Guatemala’s emergency coordination agency said the quake struck at 1:29 a.m. local time (3:29 EDT) in the department of San Marcos west of the capital near the Mexican border, but was felt throughout the country.
The country’s National Civil Police said one injured person was hurt in Retalhuelu when part of a church collapsed on him as he was passing by.
Authorities reported several departments, or states, without electricity.
The region of the epicenter is mountainous and sparsely populated with communities scattered around the base of the dormant Tajumulco volcano. Most residents are small-scale farmers or run small businesses.
The epicenter was 13 miles west of San Marcos, Guatemala, which has about 25,000 residents.
Officials announced that school would be canceled Wednesday in the area to allow inspections of the buildings.
The earthquake swayed buildings in the capital waking residents, but not causing damage.
Across the border in Chiapas, Mexico, Gov. Manuel Velasco said via Twitter that there were reports of cracked walls and shattered windows in Huixtla, but so far no injuries. The state’s Civil Protection authorities said the quake was felt throughout the state.
There was no tsunami warning.
SONIA PEREZ D.